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Gisbrecht v. Barnhart
United States Supreme Court
535 U.S. 789 (2002)
Gary Gisbrecht, Barbara Miller, and Nancy Sandine (plaintiffs) were each represented in a United States district court seeking Social Security disability benefits. All prevailed and were awarded past-due benefits. Pursuant to contingency-fee agreements, the three each agreed to pay their attorneys 25 percent of all past-due benefits recovered. The attorneys sought an award of attorney’s fees out of the past-due benefit awards pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 406(b). However, the district court refused to give effect to the contingency agreements, instead employing a lodestar method to calculate a reasonable fee by multiplying the number of hours reasonably spent on the case by a reasonable hourly rate. Gisbrecht, Miller, and Sandine each appealed, and a United States court of appeals consolidated the cases and affirmed the district court. Gisbrecht and the others requested certiorari to determine the appropriate method for calculating fees under 42 U.S.C § 406(b).
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)
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