Expert Witness Fee Requests Did Not Have To Be Scaled Down Due To Plaintiff’s Financial Condition.
On the merits, Alexander v. Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, Case No. D071001 (May 11, 2018 partially published; costs discussion not published) is a wrenching decision on a patient’s health care directives conflicting with providers’ opinions that the requested health care would be ineffective/harmful to the patient. The providers would not follow the directives, and they prevailed in a lawsuit over the conflict. The trial judge awarded about $160,000 in routine costs (including expert witness fees) based on the CCP routine costs provisions and a successful defense 998 offer.
Except for a minor deduction of expert witness fees for one defendant, the costs award was affirmed on appeal. It was allowable to award costs for each defendant ordering its/his own deposition transcript and posting separate jury fees. The 998 offer to waive costs in return for a dismissal was not unreasonable and had value given that the case was expert intensive and plaintiff was on notice that costs could be substantial if the defense prevailed. It was also no abuse of discretion to scale down the expert witness fees (which were not that high per expert) for plaintiff’s financial situation given the fact that plaintiff was on notice that the defense costs could be quite high.