Southerland v. Astrue
ORDER GRANTING 50 Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney Fees. Plaintiff's counsel is hereby awarded $3,171.46 from the plaintiff's past due award. The remaining balance of the past-due award shall be released to the plaintiff. Signed by US District Judge Terrence W. Boyle on 3/27/2014. (Fisher, M.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security,
Plaintiffs counsel has moved for attorney's fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b)
[DE 50]. For the reasons stated herein, counsel's motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs counsel seeks fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b).
Section 406(b)(l) allows
the Court to award a "reasonable fee" of up to twenty-five percent of the past-due benefits paid
to the plaintiff.
Here, plaintiffs counsel has requested twenty-five percent of the plaintiffs
past-due benefits. The government objects to this motion and argues that a lower fee should be
awarded. This Court reviews the requested fee for reasonableness, and may reduce the fee if, for
example, the attorney is responsible for a delay in the proceedings or the award would amount to
a windfall to counsel. See Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 808-09 (2002).
Plaintiff was awarded $60,285.85 in total past-due benefits; twenty-five percent of
plaintiffs past-due benefits equals $15,071.46. Plaintiffs counsel has been paid $6,000
for representation at the administrative level and has been awarded Equal Access to
Justice Act (AJA) fees in the amount of $5,900. Counsel has submitted documentation
recording thirty-six hours and twenty five minutes related to the representation of
plaintiff before this Court.
Under the circumstances of this case, the Court finds that an award of twenty-five
percent of plaintiffs past due award yields a reasonable amount and would not amount to
a windfall to plaintiffs counsel. Based on the number of hours worked, the lodestar
amount equals approximately $250 per hour, which the Court does not find to be "out of
line with the character of representation and the results achieved." Mudd v. Barnhart,
418 F.3d 424, 428 (4th Cir. 2005) (quotation and citation omitted). Nor does the Court
find concern with counsel's proposed method of collecting his fee - by retaining his
EAJA and administrative awards and seeking only the remaining balance of his twentyfive percent fee from plaintiffs past-due award.
For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees pursuant to
§406(b)(1) is GRANTED. Plaintiffs counsel is hereby AWARDED $3,171.46 from
plaintiff's past-due award. The remaining balance of the past-due award shall be released
This the~ day of March, 2014.
T RRENCE W. BOYLE
UNITED STATES DISTRIC
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