ARDLEY v. ASTRUE
ORDER granting 40 Motion for Attorney Fees by Plaintiff's counsel. Signed by CHIEF JUDGE M CASEY RODGERS on 9/12/2012. (jws)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
CASE NO. 1:09cv185-MP-GRJ
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE,
This matter is before the court on plaintiff’s counsel’s motion for attorney fees
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b)(1). (Doc. 40). The court has previously granted two
separate motions for attorney fees, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b)(1). Plaintiff’s counsel
now moves the court for an additional $3,743.50 in attorney fees (equal to 25 percent of
plaintiff’s youngest child’s $14,974.00 in past due benefits).
The Commissioner has filed a response (doc. 41) indicating that he does not contest
a fee of 25 percent of plaintiff’s child’s past due benefits. Although the attorney award of
$3,743.50 is uncontested, the court must still make an independent determination of the
reasonableness of any fee awarded pursuant to § 406(b). See Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535
U.S. 789, 807-08, 122 S. Ct. 1817, 1828 (2002) (holding that courts may award a
reasonable fee not to exceed twenty-five percent of pastdue benefits and should consider
the character of the representation and the results the representation achieved in
determining the reasonableness of a contingency fee agreement). The court finds upon
consideration of the factors cited with approval in Gisbrecht that the requested fee award
is reasonable. The representation of plaintiff in this case was not substandard, and the
attorney for plaintiff, does not appear to have been responsible for any delays in this
matter. Moreover, counsel represented plaintiff on a contingency fee basis for an extended
period of time, obtaining additional past-due benefits in the amount of $14,974.00. While
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the hourly rate almost certainly exceeds market rates, by working on a contingency fee
basis counsel accepted the risk of not being compensated for his efforts. As such, the
requested fee is not a windfall. Furthermore, the plaintiff has made no objection to his
attorney's fee request. The Commissioner withheld $3,743.50 of plaintiff's child’s past-due
benefits for attorney fees. Pursuant to the fee agreements in this case, plaintiff's counsel
seeks this amount in attorney fees.
Accordingly, the motion for attorneys' fees (doc. 40) is GRANTED. Pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 406(b), plaintiff's attorney is awarded fees in the amount of $3,743.50. Defendant
is ordered to pay the fee from plaintiff's past-due benefits being held by defendant.
DONE AND ORDERED this 12th day of September, 2012.
M. Casey Rodgers
M. CASEY RODGERS
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Case No: 1:09cv185-MP-GRJ
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