Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Chiles v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 16, 2020

TANESHIA Y. CHILES, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, [1] Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HONORABLE MICHAEL A. TELESCA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Attorney's Fees, seeking the amount of $10, 324.75, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b). Docket No. 18. Defendant has filed a response, indicating that he does not oppose Plaintiff's request. Docket No. 21. The matter is now fully submitted and ready for decision. Docket No. 23. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's motion is granted.

         II. Background

         On June 23, 2017, this Court reversed the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), and remanded the matter for further proceedings. See Docket No. 15. On August 31, 2017, the Court signed a stipulation entered into by the parties, whereby Plaintiff was awarded $6, 530.00 pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412, in full satisfaction of her claim pursuant to the EAJA, for her attorney's services performed in connection with this action. Docket No. 17.

         Subsequently, on July 3, 2019, Plaintiff received a Notice of Award from the Social Security Administration indicating that she was being awarded $55, 699.00 in past due SSI benefits. Docket Nos. 18-2 at ¶ 10 & 18-4.

         Pursuant to the fee agreement signed by Plaintiff, her attorney is entitled to 25 percent of her past due benefits. Docket No. 18-2 at ¶ 6. Based on the above-referenced award of benefits, the amount due to Plaintiff's attorney pursuant to the fee agreement would be $13, 924.75. See Id. at ¶ 19. However, Plaintiff's attorney has requested a fee of only $10, 325.75. Id. at ¶ 2. Plaintiff's attorney has already received the sum of $6, 540.00, pursuant to the above-mentioned EAJA application and stipulation, and he states that he will refund this fee to Plaintiff once the instant request is granted. Id. at ¶ 18. Plaintiff's attorney has submitted the award notice (Docket No. 18-4), the fee agreement (Docket No. 18-3), and his time records to date (Docket Nos. 18-5 & 18-7).

         III. Discussion

         Title 42, Section 406(b) provides as follows:

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[.]

42 U.S.C. § 406(b)(1)(A).

         “When a contingent fee has been agreed to by the parties, the district court must determine whether the fee is reasonable[, ]” “giv[ing] due deference to the intent of the parties” while “not blindly approv[ing] every fee request made pursuant to a contingent agreement.” Wells v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 367, 372 (2d Cir. 1990). Mathematical calculations are not required, but the district court should determine whether the contingency percentage is within the 25 percent cap. Id. In addition, it should consider “whether there has been fraud or overreaching in making the agreement” and “whether the requested amount is so large as to be a windfall to the attorney.” Id. (citations omitted).

         Here, based on the total award of benefits ($55, 699.00), the amount due to Plaintiff's attorney pursuant to the fee agreement would be $13, 924.75. Plaintiff's attorney has requested a reduced fee of $10, 324.75, which represents 18.53% of the total past-due benefits awarded. See Docket No. 18-2 at 4. Therefore, the revised contingency percentage is less than the 25 percent cap authorized by § 406(b).

         Given that Plaintiff's attorney has requested a reduced fee amount, the Court concludes that there is no evidence of fraud or overreaching. The Court also finds that the amount requested does not appear to be so large as to be a windfall to the attorney. See Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 808 (2002); see also Docket No. 18-7. Plaintiff's counsel began working on Plaintiff's case in May 2013, after the administrative law judge denied her claim for benefits. See Docket No. 18-2 at ¶ 7. He has spent 36.1 hours preparing Plaintiff's case before the federal district court, see Docket No. 18-7, which yields an hourly fee of $286 (see ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.