Can a Party Reimburse Expert Witness Fees for Deposing its Own Expert?

Plaintiff was injured while working for Defendant Railroad Company. He sued under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), alleging that the Railroad negligently failed to provide reasonably safe working conditions by failing to provide appropriate equipment for the job he was doing when he was hurt. 

A jury awarded  him $525,000 in damages. The Railroad moved for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. The district court denied both requests, and the Railroad appealed, raising several issues. Plaintiff filed a cross-appeal asserting that the district court erred by not awarding him sufficient costs to cover his expert witness fees.  

Plaintiff claimed for $3,800 in fees that he paid to his treating physicians for taking their video depositions, which were presented at trial. The Railroad objected, arguing that 28 U.S.C. § 1821(b) limits witness fees to $40 per day. The district court agreed with the Railroad. 

A panel of Circuit Judges Kanne, Sykes, and Hamilton reviewed the district court’s award of costs for an abuse of discretion. The Court reviewed legal questions related to the cost award de novo

Read about the panel’s decision at ForensisGroup.