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Blaine-Thede v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

September 16, 2014

CHRISTINA BLAINE-THEDE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, [1] Defendant.

MERRILL SCHNEIDER, Schneider Kerr Law Offices, Portland, OR, Attorney for Plaintiff.

S. AMANDA MARSHALL, United States Attorney, ADRIAN L. BROWN, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR, DAVID MORADO, Regional Chief Counsel, NANCIE A. MISHALANIE, Special Assistant United States Attorney Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Christina Blaine-Thede's Motion for Attorney Fees (#29) Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion and awards attorneys' fees to Plaintiff in the amount of $3, 263.39.

BACKGROUND

On February 16, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court in which she sought judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Commission denying Plaintiff's applications for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income payments (SSI) under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.

On December 17, 2012, this Court issued an Order (#22) reversing the Commissioner's decision and remanding the matter for further administrative proceedings pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). On that same day the Court entered a Judgment (#23) reversing the Commissioner's decision and remanding this matter to the Commissioner.

On February 4, 2013, the parties filed a Stipulation (#24) for Attorneys' Fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. § 2412, in the amount of $3, 199.86. On February 5, 2013, the Court entered an Order (#26) based on the Stipulation in which it awarded attorneys' fees under EAJA to Plaintiff's counsel in the amount of $3, 199.86.

On June 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion (#29) for Attorney Fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b) in which Plaintiff seeks $6, 463.25 in additional attorneys' fees pursuant to a contingent-fee agreement for work Plaintiff's counsel performed in this matter before this Court.

STANDARDS

Section 406(b) of the Social Security Act "controls fees for representation [of Social Security claimants] in court." Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 794 (2002)(citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1728(a)). Under § 406(b) "a court may allow a reasonable fee... not in excess of 25 percent of the... past-due benefits' awarded to the claimant." Id. at 795 (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 406(b)(1)(A)). Section 406(b) requires the court first to "determine whether a fee agreement has been executed between the plaintiff and his attorney, and, if so, whether such agreement is reasonable." Garcia v. Astrue, 500 F.Supp.2d 1239, 1242 (C.D. Cal. 2007)(citing Gisbrecht, 535 U.S. at 807).

"Agreements are unenforceable to the extent that they provide for fees exceeding 25 percent of the past-due benefits." Gisbrecht, 535 U.S. at 807 (citing 42 U.S.C. § 406(B)(1)). Even "[w]ithin the 25 percent boundary, [however, ]... the attorney for the successful claimant must show that the fee sought is reasonable for the services rendered." Id.

DISCUSSION

I. Attorneys' Fee ...


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