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Gaynell D. v. Saul

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 6, 2019

GAYNELL D., [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)

          HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Gaynell D. (“Plaintiff”)'s counsel, Andrew T. Koenig (“Counsel”), filed a Corrected Motion (“Corrected Motion”) for Attorney Fees Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b) (“Section 406(b)”). The Corrected Motion seeks an award of $10, 439.12 for representing Plaintiff in an action to obtain disability insurance benefits with a refund to Plaintiff of $3, 300.00 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 Corrected Motion.

         II. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         On December 29, 2017, Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this action. ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1, Compl. Plaintiff alleged the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Defendant”) improperly denied Plaintiff's application for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Title XVI Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). Id. at 1-2. On June 15, 2018, pursuant to the parties' Stipulation to Remand, dkt. 18, the Court entered Judgment remanding the case for further administrative proceedings. Dkt. 19, Order; Dkt. 20, Judgment.

         On July 19, 2018, the Court issued an order approving the parties' stipulation awarding EAJA fees to Counsel in the amount of $3, 300.00. Dkt. 22, Order Approving EAJA Fees.

         On October 11, 2019, Counsel filed the instant Corrected Motion[3] for Authorization of Attorney's Fees Pursuant to Section 406(b) seeking attorney's fees in the amount of $10, 439.12 with a reimbursement to Plaintiff in the amount of $3, 300.00 for the EAJA fees previously paid. Dkt. 24, Mot. Counsel states 20.1 hours of attorney and paralegal time were spent representing Plaintiff in federal court. Dkt. 24 at 7-11, Declaration of Andrew T. Koenig (“Koenig Decl.”), ¶ 7-9. Counsel seeks compensation pursuant to a contingency agreement dated December 14, 2017, which provides if Plaintiff prevails in federal court, Counsel “is entitled to 25% of the lump-sum back-due benefits awarded to Client and his/her family.” Koenig Decl., ¶ 5; Dkt., 24-2, Attorney's Fee Agreement at ¶ 3.

         On October 11, 2019, Counsel served Plaintiff with the Corrected Motion and informed her that she had a right to file a response to the Corrected Motion. Dkt. 24 at 11, Proof of Service; Dkt. 24, Mot. at 2. Plaintiff has not filed a response.

         On October 22, 2019, Defendant filed a Response to the Corrected Motion. Dkt. 25. Defendant “takes no position on the reasonableness of the request” of the $10, 439.12 fee but provides an analysis of the fee request based on Defendant's role “resembling that of a trustee for the claimants.” Id. at 5.

         Thus, the Court deems this matter submitted.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. APPLICABLE LAW

Pursuant to Section 406(b):
Whenever a court renders a judgment favorable to a claimant under this subchapter who was represented before the court by an attorney, the court may determine and allow as part of its judgment a reasonable fee for such representation, not in excess of 25 percent of the total of the past-due benefits to which the claimant is entitled by reason of such judgment, and the Commissioner of Social Security may . . . certify the amount ...

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