The US District Court Indiana in the case of, Lopez v. BRIDGESTONE AMERICAS TIRE OPERATIONS, LLC, Dist. Court, ND Indiana 2013, dealt with how much was a reasonable deposition fee for a tire expert witness, Bozarth.
The court rejected the proposed $3,000 fee finding it was 3x his normal hourly rate. The court rejected the request for “preparation time” due to insufficient documentation.
The court stated:
BATO represents that Bozarth’s typical consulting fee, and the amount he charged BR Retreading, is $250 per hour. BATO argues that the $3,000 fee represents an hourly rate of almost four times Bozarth’s typical charge. B R Retreading argues that the expense is justified because of the 76 miles of travel for Bozarth from his office to the deposition site and the time he spent collecting the numerous documents BATO requested. BATO denies that the document requests would have required significant preparation time, and asserts that the party retaining the expert typically pays for the expert’s preparation time.
As described above, the Court must require BATO to pay a reasonable fee for Bozarth’s deposition. However, B R Retreading has not provided an invoice or affidavit from Bozarth itemizing the time spent preparing for and attending the deposition, nor has it provided a contract or other documentation describing his rates for depositions. The only document B R Retreading provides in support of its contention that $3,000 was a reasonable, agreed-upon fee is the single email from its paralegal to counsel for BATO. Even assuming that it would be appropriate for BATO, the deposing party, to pay for the expert’s preparation time (required by many district courts in this circuit, see United States ex rel. Liotine v. CDW-Gov’t, Inc., No. 3:05CV33, 2012 WL 1252982, at *1, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52422, at *4-5 (S.D. Ill. April 13, 2012) (listing cases)), there is no way for the Court to determine the amount of time Bozarth spent preparing in order to calculate the actual hourly rate he is charging.
BR Retreading is requesting either an hourly rate that is more than three times Bozarth’s typical rate or payment for a significant amount of time spent in preparation for the deposition, but does not provide documentation that would lead the Court to find that either charge is reasonable. Accordingly, the Court will not require BATO to pay an amount in excess of the $1,000 it has already paid, representing a reasonable payment of more than $250 per hour for the time Bozarth spent in the deposition.
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