United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
HONORABLE MICHAEL A. TELESCA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
has filed a Motion for Attorney's Fees, seeking the
amount of $19, 535.38, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b).
Docket No. 20. Defendant has filed a response, indicating
that he does not object to Plaintiff's request.
See Docket No. 26 at 4. The matter is now fully
submitted and ready for decision. Docket No. 27. For the
reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's motion is granted.
February 28, 2018, this Court reversed the decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's
application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”), and remanded the matter for further
proceedings. See Docket No. 16. On June 14, 2018,
the Court signed a stipulation entered into by the parties,
whereby Plaintiff was awarded $7, 775.53 pursuant to the
Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C.
§ 2412, in full satisfaction of his claim pursuant to
the EAJA, for his attorney's services performed in
connection with this action. Docket No. 19.
on April 10, 2019, Plaintiff received a Notice of Award from
the Social Security Administration (SSA) indicating that he
would be awarded $78, 141.52 in past due
benefits. Docket Nos. 20-1 at 1, 20-2 at ¶ 12
to the fee agreement signed by Plaintiff, his attorney is
entitled to 25 percent of his past due benefits. See
Docket Nos. 20-1 at 5, 20-2 at ¶ 18 & 20-5. Based on
the above-referenced award of benefits, the amount due to
Plaintiff's attorney pursuant to the fee agreement would
be $19, 535.38. See Docket Nos. 20-1 at 1; 26 at
3-4. Plaintiff's attorney has requested a fee equal to
this amount. See Docket No. 20. Plaintiff's
attorney has already received the sum of $7, 775.53 pursuant
to the above-mentioned EAJA application and stipulation, and
she states that she will refund this fee to Plaintiff once
the instant request is granted. Docket No. 20-1 at 8.
Plaintiff's attorney has submitted the award notice
(Docket No. 20-4), the fee agreement (Docket No. 20-5), and
her time records to date (Docket No. 20-2 at ¶ 15).
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).
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
the amount due to Plaintiff's attorney pursuant to the
fee agreement would be $19, 535.38. Plaintiff requests a fee
$19, 535.38, which is exactly 25 percent the total past-due
benefits awarded. Therefore, the contingency percentage is
within the 25 percent cap authorized by § 406(b).
that Plaintiff's attorney has not requested an increased
fee amount, the Court concludes that there is no evidence of
fraud or overreaching. The Court also agrees with Defendant
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 Nos. 20-2 at ¶ 15 & 26 at 4. Plaintiff's
counsel and her firm have worked on this case for over a
seven-year period. See Docket No. 20-1 at 7. She and
her co-counsel have spent a total of 39.53 hours preparing
Plaintiff's case before the federal district court
(see Docket No. 20-2 at ¶¶ 15-16), which
yields an hourly fee of $494.19 (see Docket Nos.
20-1 at 6 & 26 at 4), and is reasonable under the
circumstances. See, e.g., Smith v. Saul, No.
18-CV-148F, 2020 WL 90761, ...