The US District Court Ohio, in the case of Anderson v. JAS CARRIERS, INC., Dist. Court, SD Ohio 2013, dealt with the treating physician, Agabegi.
In addition to being a treating physician who has performed two surgeries on Plaintiff, Dr. Agabegi also has been identified as one of Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses. Dr. Agabegi has demanded prepayment of $1,500 for the first hour of his deposition and a half hour telephone conference, with any additional deposition hours to be billed at the rate of $1,000 per hour.
The court rejected the request for $1,500 per hour and stated:
In the case presented, Defendants argue persuasively that the rate proposed by Dr. Agabegi is excessive and would constitute an unreasonable fee, but offer limited evidence to support a different specific hourly rate. For example, Defendants offer evidence that Dr. Agabegi’s average cost for an office visit is less than $200, based upon Plaintiff’s billing statements for at least 12 such visits. However, Defendants fail to explain how the cost of a single office visit would translate to an appropriate hourly rate for a physician deposition. After all, few (if any) physicians, and presumably even fewer orthopedic surgeons, would allocate an entire hour to a single patient for an office visit, whereas a deposition typically requires several hours.
Defendants have not provided this Court with the hourly billing rates of comparable orthopedic surgeons, but it is clear that attempting to derive a reasonable expert fee rate from a “net” billing rate could be problematic. A recent survey of physician pay conducted by Medscape and presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons 2012 Meeting reported that, in part due to low Medicare reimbursement rates, orthopedic surgeons earned hourly income averaging just $88. See http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/758687. Such a low rate would appear to be presumptively unreasonable as an expert witness fee for an individual with the training and experience of an orthopedic surgeon.
Despite the somewhat limited information provided by Defendants, the undersigned concludes that a reasonable fee can be established considering the record as a whole, including the rates charged for office visits, Dr. Agabegi’s presumed experience and training as a surgeon, and rates set by other federal courts in recent years. Applying that information, the Court concludes a reasonable rate for Dr. Agabegi’s discovery deposition is $400 per hour.