Bradshaw v. Commissioner Social Security Administration

Filing 32

ORDER: Awarding Attorney Fee Pursuant to 42:406(B)(1), Granting Motion for Attorney Fees 31 . Signed on 6/28/2017 by Judge Robert E. Jones. (sss)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF OREGON Portland Division SCOTT BRADSHAW, Civil No. 3:14-CV-01829-JO Plaintiff, v. ORDER A WARDING ATTORNEY FEE PURSUANT TO 42 U.S.C. § 406(B)(l) NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. Plaintiff Scott Bradshaw brought this action for judicial review of a decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying his application for disability benefits under the Social Security Act. Based on a stipulation of the parties, this comi reversed and remanded the Commissioner's decision for further proceedings. Bradshaw applied for attorney fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act and received an award in the amount of $6,582,35. In the administrative proceedings after remand, the Commissioner found Bradshaw disabled beginning in December 2010 and awarded past-due benefits for the period from December 2010 through March 2017. The matter is now before the co mi on Bradshaw's unopposed motion for attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. § 406(b). [# 31] The motion is granted. Bradshaw's counsel seeks attorney fees in the amount of $23,502.25, to be paid from Bradshaw's retroactive benefits, which total approximately $94,000. Under 42 U.S.C. § 406(b), the comi may award a reasonable attorney fee, not to exceed 25 percent of the past-due benefits ORDER FOR ATTORNEY FEES Page 1 awarded to the claimant. To the extent a contingency fee agreement does not provide for fees exceeding 25 percent of the claimant's past-due benefits, its te1ms are enforceable subject to the district comt's review to assure the fee is reasonable in a paiticular case. Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 807 (2002). The claimant's counsel bears the burden of showing the reasonableness of the requested fee. The Comt of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit applied the Gisbrecht reasonableness standard to resolve three consolidated appeals in Crawfordv. Astrue, 586 F.3d 1142 (9 111 Cir. 2009). The comt found it significant that in each case, the claimant signed a contingency fee agreement providing that the attorney would receive 25 percent of the past-due benefits, there was no substandard performance to justify a reduction in the fee, there was no evidence of dilatory conduct on the part of the petitioning attorneys, and the requested amounts were not excessively large in relation to the benefits received by the claimant. Crawford, 586 F.3d at 1150-1151. The court concluded that the requested fees were reasonable. In this case, Bradshaw entered into a contingency fee agreement providing that his attorney would receive 25 percent of any past-due benefits recovered. In the present motion, the fee requested is indeed 25 percent of Bradshaw's award for past-due benefits. I have considered the factors identified in Gisbrecht and Crm1ford and find no basis for a reduction for substandard perfo1mance or dilat01y conduct. The amount requested is not excessively large relative to the benefit achieved for Bradshaw. I conclude that the requested fee is reasonable. In the event that both an EAJA fee and a fee under section 406(b) are approved by the court, the claimant's attorney must refund the smaller amount to the claimant. See Gisbrecht, ORDER FOR ATTORNEY FEES Page 2 535 U.S. at 796. Accordingly, the fee approved today must be reduced by the amount of the previous EAJA fee award, $6,582,35. The net fee due to Bradshaw's counsel is $16,919.90. For the foregoing reasons, the plaintiffs motion for an award of attorney fees [# 31] is GRANTED. IT IS SO ORDERED this JS~ day of June, 2017. ROBERT E JO ES, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED S~~:r S DISTRICT COURT 0 RD ER FOR ATTORNEY FEES Page 3

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