Should Trial Support Services be a Taxable Cost?

Should Trial Support Services be a Taxable Cost?

I was recently asked to testify in a cost hearing for a trial that we were part of.  This was the first time that we have been asked to testify and justify our costs to a Judge.  The entire experience was very interesting and educational for me.

The case had proceeded to trial on several occasions, but did not actually finish until our third time on the trial calendar.  During the course of pretrial, we prepared documents and impeachment clips.

The document discovery continued until the eve of our third trial date and thus document production continued right up until that point.  For all of the documents in the case, we were able to image, brand, add an exhibit sticker as required by the Court and then produce final PDF documents to the parties.

We also created impeachment for the two main witnesses in the case.  These two witnesses contradicted themselves and each other.  The witnesses did not present well in deposition.  In all, these depositions were the crux to winning the case.

Through the use of prepared documents and video, our side was able to present a streamlined and effective case.  We were able to present a case that was clearly in the client’s best interest.  And the preparation ensured that the case was tried in a timely manner.

Well, we won.  Our attorney’s preparation had paid off.   There was no doubt in the Jury’s mind what the verdict should be.

Then came the opposition to taxable costs.  Our attorney faced an argument that under the Uniform Guidelines for Taxation of Costs in Civil Actions, Section III, that the cost of “Any Expenses Relating to Consulting But Non-Testifying Experts” should not be taxed as costs.  Under this guideline, with the right Judge, it seemed to be a fair argument.

However, one of the points our Attorney used to counter the argument, was that Supreme Court of Florida had revised the Guidelines in 2005.  The Supreme Court of Florida stated,

Consistent with the Court’s stated policy, the preamble that we have added to the guidelines emphasizes the goal of decreasing the overall cost of litigation. In furtherance of that policy, the Committee recommends and the Court agrees that the trial court should reward utilization of innovative technologies by a party which minimizes costs and reduce the award when use of innovative technologies that were not used would have resulted in lowering costs…

The Supreme Court of Florida clearly states that the trial court should reward parties with the use of innovative technologies.  This seems to be a clear win for our attorney.

Was it?  How do you think the Judge ruled?

What do you think?  Should courtroom technologies, presentations, and support staff for that technology be a taxable cost?

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