United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHIMWALA F. ENGLISH, Plaintiff,
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. MERIWEATHER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Washington Metropolitan Area
Transit Authority's (“Defendant” or
“WMATA”) Renewed Motion to Compel Payment of
Expert Fees for Preparation for Discovery Deposition
(“Renewed Motion”), which seeks to compel
Chimwala F. English (“Plaintiff” or “Ms.
English”) to pay fees for an expert witness's
deposition preparation time. See ECF No. 38. Ms. English
opposes the motion. The District Judge presiding over this
case has referred all discovery disputes to the undersigned
Magistrate Judge pursuant to Local Civil Rule 72.2(a). See
Order, ECF No. 21. Having reviewed the parties'
submissions,  the Court will deny without prejudice
WMATA's Renewed Motion for the reasons set forth below.
factual background relevant to this Motion is set forth in
the Court's November 9, 2017 Memorandum Opinion and Order
which denied Defendant's initial request to compel fees
for the preparation time invoiced by Dr. Romergryko G.
Geocadin (“Dr. Geocadin”) for an expert witness
deposition. See English v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit
Auth., 293 F.Supp.3d 13, 14 (D.D.C. 2017). In that
decision, the Court denied without prejudice WMATA's
initial fee request because WMATA had failed to meaningfully
confer with Plaintiff's counsel as required by Local
Civil Rule 7(m). See Id. at 14-17.
now renews its motion and continues to seek a Court order
compelling Ms. English to pay for the time that Dr. Geocadin
spent preparing for the deposition. See Def.'s Mot. at 1.
Ms. English again opposes the motion on two grounds, arguing:
first, that WMATA failed to meaningfully confer as required
under Local Civil Rule 7(m); and second, that WMATA has not
proven that the time Mr. Geocadin spent on deposition
preparation, or the hourly fee he charged, is reasonable. See
generally Pl.'s Opp'n. WMATA filed no reply.
Motion to Compel Expert Fees for Deposition Preparation
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(4)(E) provides that
“[u]nless manifest injustice would result, the court
must require that the party seeking discovery . . . pay the
expert a reasonable fee for time spent in responding to
discovery under Rule 26(b)(4)(A) or (D).” See also
Barnes v. District of Columbia, 272 F.R.D. 135');">272 F.R.D. 135, 137
(D.D.C. 2011) (“[T]he party who noticed the deposition
must compensate the expert accordingly.”). Time spent
“responding to discovery” includes the time an
expert uses to prepare for a deposition. Id.; see
Schmidt v. Solis, 272 F.R.D. 1, 1-3 (D.D.C. 2010).
The party seeking reimbursement bears the burden of
establishing that the fee is reasonable. Barnes v.
District of Columbia, 274 F.R.D. 314, 316 (D.D.C. 2011)
(citing Guantanamera Cigar Co. v. Corporacion Habanos,
S.A., 729 F.Supp.2d 246, 255-56 (D.D.C. 2010)). To
determine whether the requested fee is reasonable, courts
weigh several factors including:
(1) the witness's area of expertise; (2) the education
and training that are required to provide the expert insight
that is sought; (3) the prevailing rates for other comparably
respected available experts; (4) the nature, quality, and
complexity of the discovery responses provided; (5) the cost
of living in the particular geographic area; (6) the fee
actually being charged by the expert to the party who
retained him; and (7) fees traditionally charged by the
expert on related matters.
Local Civil Rule 7(m)
Court's Local Rules require that “[b]efore filing
any nondispositive motion in a civil action, counsel shall
discuss the anticipated motion with opposing counsel in a
good-faith effort to determine whether there is any
opposition to the relief sought and, if there is, to narrow
the areas of disagreement.” Local Civ. R. 7(m). This
rule was adopted “to promote the resolution of as many
litigation disputes as possible without court intervention,
or at least to force the parties to narrow the issues that
must be brought to the court.” Ellipso, Inc. v.
Mann, 460 F.Supp.2d 99, 102 (D.D.C. 2006) (citing
United States ex rel. Pogue v. Diabetes Treatment Ctrs.
of Am., Inc., 235 F.R.D. 521, 529 (D.D.C. 2006)); see
also Dist. Hosp. Partners, L.P. v. Sebelius, 971
F.Supp.2d 15, 21-22 (D.D.C. 2013). Parties'
“obligation to confer may not be satisfied by
perfunctory action, but requires a good faith effort to
resolve the non-dispositive disputes that occur in the course
of litigation.” Pogue, 235 F.R.D. at 529.