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Giuliani v. Springfield Township

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 18, 2017

RICHARD GIULIANI, SR. and RICHARD GIULIANI, JR.
v.
SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, et al.

          MEMORANDUM

          O'NEILL, J.

         This case involves a longstanding dispute concerning the use of a 5.29-acre property located at 50 Oreland Mill Road in Springfield Township, Pennsylvania. On February 27, 2017, I granted summary judgment in favor of defendants on all of plaintiffs' claims. Defendants now seek to compel plaintiffs to pay expert witness deposition fees pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(4)(A). I will grant the motion, but limit the total amount of recoverable costs and fees to $3056.25.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs initiated the current action against defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of their due process and equal protection rights, as well as a state law claim of tortious interference with contractual relations. In the course of discovery, defendants retained Charles L. Guttenplan, an expert in land use planning, zoning, land development and related municipal practices, to testify as to defendants' liability. Additionally, they retained John J. Coyle III, an expert in real estate appraisal, leases and the calculation of fair market price for industrial property rentals, to testify as to damages. On February 18, 2015, both experts issued expert reports.

         Pursuant to the scheduling order, plaintiffs noticed the depositions of both experts.

         Plaintiffs took Mr. Guttenplan's deposition on April 17, 2015, following which he invoiced defense counsel for his fees and costs, at a rate of $150.00 per hour, as follows:

4.08.15

Review expert report

0.50 hr.

4.09.15

Meeting with H. Mahoney, Esq.

1.75 hr.

4.11.15

Review documents

4.00 hr.

4.12.15

Review documents

4.75 hr.

4.13.15

Review documents

0.75 hr.

4.14.15

Review documents

0.50 hr.

4.16.15

Review documents; meeting prep

2.50 hr.

4.17.15

Travel; attend deposition

6.75 hr.

Total Time Charges

21.50 hrs. @ $150/hr.= $3, 225.00

         Defs.' Mot. Expert Dep. Fees, Ex. A. In addition, Mr. Guttenplan billed $13.00 for train fare and $1.00 for parking. Id. On May 12, 2015, plaintiffs took Mr. Coyle's deposition, after which he invoiced defense counsel for his fees and costs, at a rate of $300 per hour, as follows:

One hour of preparation @$300/Hour 300.00
Five hours of testimony @$300/Hour 1, 500.00
Total Due: 1, 800.00

Id., Ex. B.

         Defendants forwarded these invoices to plaintiffs for payment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(4)(E). By way of letters dated May 11, 2015 and May 27, 2015, plaintiffs argued that although expert discovery costs are generally recoverable by defendants, the amounts sought by the two experts were excessive. Defs.' Mot. Expert Dep. Fees, Ex. C & D. Plaintiffs offered compromises of $1, 495.25 for Mr. Guttenplan and $1, 380.00 for Mr. Coyle. Id. Defendants did not respond to either letter. On March 10, 2017, twenty-two months later and after the grant of summary judgment, defendants filed the present motion. Dkt. No. 97. On March 24, 2017, plaintiffs responded. Dkt. No. 99.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Defendants' Failure to Comply With Local Rule 26.1(f)

         Before reaching the merits of defendants' motion, I must address plaintiffs' claim that defendants' motion should be denied for failure to comply with Local Rule 26.1(f). For purposes ...


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