Submitted: August 4, 2017
L. MEDINILLA JUDGE.
NOW TO WIT, this 10th day of August,
2017, upon consideration of Plaintiff Juanita Roberson's
Motion for Costs, Defendant Bruce G. Laird's Response to
Plaintiffs Motion for Costs, and the record in this case,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs Motion
for Costs is GRANTED, in part, and
DENIED, in part, for the following reasons:
and Procedural Background
July 24, 2017, after a one-day trial, a Superior Court jury
returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff Juanita Roberson in
the amount of $60, 000.00. The lawsuit alleged that Defendant
Bruce Laird was negligent in operating his motor vehicle,
causing Plaintiff, a passenger in her husband's vehicle,
to suffer personal injuries when Defendant's vehicle
abruptly struck the left side of Plaintiff s vehicle. Her
husband and co-Plaintiff, Colie Roberson, settled his claim
shortly before trial.
July 31, 2017, Plaintiff filed the pending Motion for Costs.
Plaintiff moves to recover the following costs: (1) $3,
000.00 for expert testimony of Conrad King, M.D.; (2) $3,
500.00 for expert testimony of Mark Eskander, M.D.; (3)
$455.80 for Dr. King's deposition transcript; and (4)
$501.80 for Dr. Eskander's deposition transcript. The
total amount sought in the Motion equals $7, 457.60.
August 4, 2017, Defendant filed his Response to Plaintiffs
Motion. In his response, Defendant concedes Plaintiffs
entitlement to both deposition transcript fees; however,
Defendant argues that the costs sought for both experts'
testimony are excessive. Defendant contends that Dr.
King's fee should be reduced to $375.00 and that Dr.
Eskander's fee be reduced to $563.00.
of the Parties
Plaintiffs Motion sets forth the above dollar values and
summarily argues that Plaintiff is entitled to the above
costs under Delaware Superior Court Civil Rule 54(d) &
(h) and 10 Del. C. § 8906. Plaintiff attaches
to her Motion invoices from both doctors corroborating the
Defendant contends that both expert fees should be reduced to
$375.00 and $563.00, respectively. Defendant's arithmetic
derives from the reasoning of the Superior Court in Smith
v. Paul J. Renzi Masonry Following the Smith
Court's reasoning, Defendant argues, yields the above
dollar values that Defendant maintains are reasonable.
54(d) states that "costs shall be allowed as of course
to the prevailing party upon application to the Court within
ten (10) days of the entry of final judgment unless the Court
otherwise directs." The prevailing party is entitled to
recover costs for expert witnesses "testifying on
deposition" under Rule 54(h) and 10 Del. C.
§ 8906, provided that the deposition testimony is
introduced into evidence at trial. Section 8906 assigns the
duty to fix costs for expert witnesses to the Court in its
Defendant's position is that the Court's reasoning in
Smith yields a reasonable result in this case. In
Smith, the plaintiff was awarded a jury verdict in
excess of $700, 000.00 after a one-and-a-half-week trial. In
the ensuing motion for costs, the plaintiff sought costs
totaling $25, 786.79, including costs for two expert medical
witnesses whose video trial depositions were admitted at
trial. The fee for both experts for roughly two hours of
video deposition testimony was $6, 000.00 and $2, 500.00,
respectively. Looking to the Medical Society of
Delaware's Medico-Legal Affairs Committee guidelines from
1995, the Court extrapolated the 1995 customary fees for
expert medical testimony using ...