Tag: costs
  • Paralegal Fees as Part of Attorney Fee Award?

    In honor of this short court week, here’s a brief post answering a question I’ve been asked a few times:  When a statute authorizes a court to award reasonable attorney fees as costs, can the fee award also include reasonable paralegal fees?  (Note that paralegal fees are not separately included in the “complete and exclusive” list of allowable expenses in 7A-305(d).)  Some trial judges and clerks of court routinely include paralegal fees in attorney fee awards and others do not.  But have North Carolina’s appellate courts addressed the specific question one way or another?  Yes, and the short answer is that trial courts do indeed have this discretion.  In Lea Co. v. North Carolina Board of Transportation, the Supreme Court reviewed an attorney fee award in the context of a condemnation action.  The court stated pointedly that,

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  • Expert Witness Fees as a Civil Cost – An Amendment to the Statute

    I promised to follow up my last post with a discussion of that little change in S.L. 2015-153 to G.S. 7A-314, the witness fee statute. First some background: General Statute 7A-305 sets out the costs assessable in North Carolina civil actions. [Note that liability for costs in a given case is generally determined under G.S. Chapter 6.]   Subsection (d) of 7A-305 lists the expenses of a party that may be recovered as costs. Prior to 2007, there was confusion about whether the list of expenses in 7A-305(d) was exclusive, or whether additional expenses—such as expert witness fees—could also be awarded in the court’s discretion. Then, in July 2007, the statute was amended to make clear that subsection (d) was indeed an exclusive list. The list was also expanded to include several other types of expenses, including “reasonable and necessary fees of expert witnesses solely for actual time spent providing testimony at trial, deposition, or other proceedings.” 7A-305(d)(11)(emphasis added). Soon thereafter, the Court of Appeals held that this very limited category of expert fees could only be awarded if the expert witness was under subpoena.  See Jarrell v. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Hosp. Auth., 206 N.C. App. 559 (2010) (reiterated in Peters v. Pennington, 210 N.C. App. 1 (2011) and Lassiter v. North Carolina Baptist Hospitals, Inc., 761 S.E.2d 720 (N.C. App. 2014)) [see comments section below for update].

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