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Bartholomew W. v. Saul

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 16, 2019

BARTHOLOMEW W., [1]Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, [2] Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES PURSUANT TO 42 U.S.C. § 406(B)

          KENLY KIYA KATO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Bartholomew W. (“Plaintiff”)'s counsel, Monica Perales of the Law Offices of Lawrence D. Rohlfing (“Counsel”), filed a Motion for Attorney Fees (“Motion”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b) (“Section 406(b)”). The Motion seeks an award of $20, 000.00 for representing Plaintiff in an action to obtain disability insurance benefits with a refund to Plaintiff of $2, 816.40 for the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”) fees previously awarded. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the Motion.

         II.

         RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         On December 16, 2016, Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this action. See ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1, Compl. Plaintiff alleged the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Defendant”) improperly denied Plaintiff's applications for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Title XVI Supplemental Security Income Benefits (“SSI”). Id. at 2. On September 25, 2017, the Court approved the parties' Stipulation to Voluntary Remand and remanded the action to Defendant for further proceedings. Dkt. 23, Judgment.

         On November 27, 2017, the Court issued an order approving the Parties' stipulation of EAJA fees to Counsel in the amount of $2, 816.40. Dkt. 25, Order Granting EAJA Fees.

         On August 16, 2019, Counsel filed the instant Motion pursuant to Section 406(b) seeking the amount of $20, 000.00 for representing Plaintiff in the underlying proceedings before the Court. Dkt. 26, Mot. at 1. Counsel states she expended 15.4 hours of attorney and paralegal time on Plaintiff's case. Dkt. 26 at 12-13, Declaration of Monica Perales (“Perales Decl.”), ¶ 5, Ex. 4, Itemized Hours. Counsel seeks compensation pursuant to a contingency fee agreement dated November 6, 2017 stating, “If this matter requires judicial review of any adverse decision of the Social Security Administration, the fee for successful prosecution of this matter is a separate 25% of the past due benefits awarded upon reversal of any unfavorable ALJ decision for work before the court.” Perales Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. 1, Contingency Fee Agreement (emphasis in original). Additionally, Counsel seeks an order to “reimburse [Plaintiff] the amount of the $2, 816.40 for EAJA fees previously paid by the Commissioner.” Dkt. 26, Mot. at 1.

         On August 19, 2019, Counsel served Plaintiff with the Motion and informed him of his right to file a response to the Motion. Dkt. 26, Mot. at 2, 14. Plaintiff, however, failed to respond. On August 28, 2019, Defendant filed a response to the Motion stating Defendant “takes no position on the reasonableness of the request.” Dkt. 27 at 5. Thus, the Court deems this matter submitted.

         III.

         DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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