Tag: discretion
  • 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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