United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER REGARDING MOTIONS FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES RE:
DKT. NOS. 29, 35
C. SPERO CHIEF MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Daniel Anthony McDade brought this action challenging the
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner”) denying his application for
disability benefits. The Court previously granted
McDade's motion for summary judgment, denied the
Commissioner's motion for summary judgment, and remanded
the case to the Commissioner with instructions to award
McDade benefits. McDade's counsel Lawrence Rohlfing now
moves for an award of attorneys' fees from the
Commissioner pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (the
“EAJA”) and for an order approving fees from
McDade's award of benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
406(b) and McDade's fee agreement with Rohlfing. For the
reasons discussed below, both motions are GRANTED in part and
DENIED in part.
the Commissioner reached a final decision denying
McDade's application for disability benefits, McDade
filed this action for review by the Court. McDade's
attorney at the outset of the case, Steven Rosales, sought
and received an extension of six weeks to file McDade's
motion for summary judgment due to personal circumstances
affecting Rosales's ability to manage his case load. More
than a month after the extended deadline had passed and no
motion had been filed, the Court issued an order to show
cause why the case should not be dismissed for failure to
prosecute, allowing the parties two weeks to submit a new
briefing schedule. Rather than propose a schedule,
Rohlfing-the principal attorney at the firm where Rosales
worked- filed a response to the order to show cause and a
hastily-dictated motion for summary judgment the day after
the Court issued that order.
resolving the parties' cross motions for summary
judgment, the Court characterized the motion and reply brief
filed by McDade's counsel as follows:
The quality of the briefs from McDade's counsel Lawrence
D. Rohlfing is unacceptable. Portions of the briefs are
incoherent, and there are a number of indications that
Rohlfing failed to read the record closely or proofread his
own briefs before filing them. For example:
• “McDade files this brief on the grounds that
there are no issues of triable fact and that M [sic] is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Notice of
Mot. (dkt. 15) at 1.
• “McCade [sic [footnote 5]] completed a mental
health survey endorsing . . . not being able to use stopper
control worrying nearly every day . . . .” Pl.'s
Mot. (dkt. 15) at 5.
[Footnote 5: “Across more than two pages of his summary
of the medical evidence, Rohlfing misspells his client's
name, using ‘McCade' rather than
‘McDade.' Pl.'s Mot. at 5-7. In one instance in
the reply brief, Rohlfing refers to his client as
‘McBain.' Reply at 6.”]
• “Resuming medication allowed him to sleep
better; had no increased anxiety or panicking feelings with
BusPar; and was on vacation.” Id.
• “Jessica land [sic], PsyD, diagnosed date [sic]
as having a panic disorder.” Id.
• “On mental status examination, Dr. Littlefield
noted and [sic] anxious mood; and affect with mild anxiety;
good to fair judgment and insight. Id. rule [sic]
out generalized anxiety disorder with a global assessment of
functioning of 60. Dr. Littlefield change [sic] the
prescription . . . .” Id. at 7.
• “The period from July 2013 through August 2015
remained a temporal span during which McDade wasn't [sic,
possibly intended as ‘was in'] self-imposed
isolation.” Id. at 12.
• “Assuming McDade did not meet listing 12.06, he
would lack the ability to engage in substantial gainful
activity is absenteeism would preclude substantial gainful
activity.” Id. at 13.
• “Her Littlefield made similar findings.”
• “The Commissioner draws attention to GAF scores
of 60 or is Dr. Littlefield identified GAF scores in his
medical source statement between 50-55.” Reply (dkt.
25) at 5.
• “Miyzazwa [sic [footnote 6]] may be express
[sic] an opinion that McDade lack [sic] the ability to engage
in the competitive standards for maintaining ...