Allen v. Astrue
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR AN AWARD OF ATTORNEY'S FEES: IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the case is reopened for the limited purpose of ruling on the instant motion and shall then be closed. The Motion for an Award of Attorney Fees 25 is GRANTED. The Plaintiff's counsel is awarded attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. § 406(b) in the amount of $36,700. by Chief Judge Marcia S. Krieger on 1/26/15.(msksec, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Chief Judge Marcia S. Krieger
Civil Action No. 12-cv-03086-MSK
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security,
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION
FOR AN AWARD OF ATTORNEY’S FEES
THIS MATTER comes before the Court pursuant to Plaintiff Julie Allen’s Unopposed
Motion to Reopen Case Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6) for an Award of Attorney’s Fees
Under 42 U.S.C. § 406(b) (#25).
The Plaintiff commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial
review of a decision by the Commissioner denying her application for Social Security Disability
benefits. This Court reversed the decision of the Commissioner and remanded the case for an
immediate award of benefits (#21). The court awarded attorney fees under Equal Access to
Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412, in the amount of $5,500 (#24).
Now, pursuant to a contingent fee agreement, the Plaintiff’s counsel asks this Court to
approve an award of attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. § 406(b) in the amount of $36,700—
representing $42,200 (13.34% of the $316,408 past-due benefits awarded) minus the $5,500 of
fees awarded under the EAJA. The contingent fee agreement specifies that the Plaintiff will pay
her attorney 25% of the past-due benefits obtained. The Defendant does not oppose this request.
The Tenth Circuit has ruled that a motion pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) is appropriate for a
party seeking an award under § 406(b)(1). See McGraw v. Barnhart, 450 F.3d 493, 505 (10th
Cir. 2006). Under § 406(b)(1)(A), a court can award attorney fees to a prevailing claimant if (1)
it rendered a judgment favorable to the claimant, (2) the claimant was represented before the
court by an attorney, and (3) the claimant was awarded past-due benefits “by reason of such
judgment.” The phrase “by reason of such judgment” is read broadly to include post-remand
awards of past-due benefits. McGraw, 450 F.3d at 499-503. Notwithstanding the terms of a
contingent fee agreement, a court is obligated to consider whether the fee requested is
reasonable. Id. at 498.
As the Court noted in its Order reversing the decision of the Commissioner, Ms. Allen
first filed a claim for disability insurance benefits in 2004 and appealed the Commissioner’s
denial of disability benefits three times. It does not appear that Ms. Allen’s counsel attorney was
responsible for any delays during the pendency of the case. See Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S.
789, 808 (2002). In addition, counsel is seeking an award for less than the amount specified in
the contingent fee contract. Under these circumstances, the Court concludes that the fee
requested here is reasonable.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the case is reopened for the limited purpose of
ruling on the instant motion and shall then be closed. The Motion for an Award of Attorney
Fees (#25) is GRANTED. The Plaintiff’s counsel is awarded attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. §
406(b) in the amount of $36,700.
Dated this 26th day of January, 2015.
BY THE COURT:
Marcia S. Krieger
Chief United States District Judge
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