Witness Travel Expenses Are Not A “Taboo” Costs Item.
Costs is the issue we focus on in Shanghai Linzheng Import & Export Co., Ltd. v. Playhut, Inc., Case No. B237169 (2d Dist., Div. 8 Aug. 23, 2013) (unpublished), even though merits and prejudgment interest issues were also involved.
Here, a prevailing party filed a costs memorandum to recoup $35,941.15 in costs, including costs for a Mandarin-English interpreter at trial and travel costs (airfare and hotels) for three witnesses who testified at trial. The lower court taxed all of the travel expenses and reduced interpreter expenses from $5,564 to $795.
The appellate court reversed the travel expenses result, but affirmed the reduction of interpreter expenses.
The lower court was in the best position to gauge whether the interpreter expenses were “necessary” within the meaning of CCP § 1033.5(c)(2), (c)(3), so that ruling held up.
Different matter on the witness travel expenses to trial. “We see nothing in the language of Code of Civil Procedure section 1033.5, subdivision (c)(4), to support the proposition that expenses for a witness to attend trial, without regard to the circumstances, are never recoverable as costs.” (Slip Opn., p. 42.) Because the trial court erroneously believed there was a statutory proscription against recovery of such costs (improperly using an analogy to an express exclusion for travel expenses to a deposition, section 1033.5(a)(3)), the matter had to be remanded so the lower court could exercise its discretion on this costs item.