Torres v. Astrue
ORDER granting 22 Motion for Attorney Fees. Ordered by U.S. District Judge W LOUIS SANDS on 4/4/14 (wks)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
DENISE M. TORRES,
CAROLYN COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
CASE NO.: 1:11-CV-24 (WLS)
On February 23, 2012, this Court reversed the decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration and remanded the above-captioned case to the
Commissioner pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Doc. 16.) On October
24, 2012, Plaintiff moved for attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act
(“EAJA”) in connection with her social security appeal and remand. (Doc. 18.) Based
on Plaintiff’s Motion and the Commissioner’s assertion that the Social Security
Administration did not oppose the Motion (Doc. 19), the Court granted Plaintiff’s
Motion for attorney’s fees in the amount of $5,945.14, and entered Judgment in favor of
Plaintiff. (Docs. 20 & 21.)
Plaintiff’s instant Motion for Attorney’s Fees under the Social Security Act (Doc.
22) requests attorney’s fees in the amount of $14,457.00 under 42 U.S.C. § 406(b).
Plaintiff’s attorney also acknowledges that he must refund to Plaintiff the previous
EAJA fee award of $5,945.14. The amount requested is 25% of Plaintiff’s past due
benefits. Defendant does not object to the requested attorney’s fees. (Doc. 23.)
In Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789 (2002), the United States Supreme Court held
that contingency fee agreements, such as the one in this case, are permissible so long as
the fee does not exceed 25% of Plaintiff’s back benefits, subject to “court review of such
arrangements as an independent check, to assure that they yield reasonable results in
particular cases.” Id. at 807; see 42 U.S.C. § 406(b). Issues to consider when assessing
reasonableness include, for example, whether the attorney's work was substandard,
whether the attorney was responsible for any delays (and would thereby profit from the
accumulation of additional back benefits during the delay), or whether the benefits are
large in comparison to the amount of time counsel spent on the case. Gisbrecht, 535
U.S. at 808.
In this case, Plaintiff’s counsel requests a total of $14,457.00, which is 25% of
Plaintiff’s back benefits. (Doc. 22-1 at 1-2.) Plaintiff’s counsel asserts that he provided
approximately 32.90 hours of attorney services over the course of two years. (Id. at 2.)
Because there is no indication that Plaintiff’s counsel is receiving a windfall or that his
performance was substandard, Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees Under the Social
Security Act (Doc. 22) is GRANTED. The Court finds that a reasonable attorney fee for
Plaintiff’s counsel, Charles L. Martin, for representation of Plaintiff in this Court is
$14,457.00. Because Plaintiff’s counsel was previously awarded $5,945.14 in fees and
counsel acknowledges that those fees are to be refunded to Plaintiff, the Commissioner
is ordered to pay to Charles L. Martin the net amount of $8,511.86 out of Plaintiff’s pastdue back benefits. See Jackson v. Comm’r of Social Sec., 601 F.3d 1268, 1274 (11th Cir.
SO ORDERED, this 4th day of April 2014.
/s/ W. Louis Sands
W. LOUIS SANDS, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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