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English v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 27, 2018




         Pending 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, [1] the Court will deny without prejudice WMATA's Renewed Motion for the reasons set forth below.


         The 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.

         WMATA 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.


         I. Motion to Compel Expert Fees for Deposition Preparation

         Federal 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.


         II. Local Civil Rule 7(m)

         This 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.


         I. Local ...

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