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Florida Second DCA reverses trial court's award to plaintiff of costs for video editing and expert witness fees, citing plaintiff's failure to present testimony on reasonableness and necessity

On May 31, 2017, in Gualtieri v. Keyser, No. 2D15-2112, the Florida Second DCA reversed a trial court’s award to a prevailing plaintiff of taxable costs for expert witness fees and the costs of video editing. The Second DCA noted that the defendant had objected to each of these costs and had demanded an evidentiary hearing regarding the reasonableness of the expert witness fees, but the plaintiff had never offered any evidence showing that the video editing was reasonably necessary to the success of the claim that or that the amount of the expert witness fees was reasonable. The Second DCA pointed out that the Statewide Uniform Guidelines for Taxation of Costs requires the party requesting costs to demonstrate the cost was "reasonably necessary either to defend or prosecute the case at the time the action precipitating the cost was taken." See In re Amendments to Uniform Guidelines for Taxation of Costs, 915 So. 2d 612, 614 (Fla. 2005). In addition, the Court quoted Lafferty v. Lafferty, 413 So. 2d 170, 171 (Fla. 2d DCA 1982) for the proposition that "upon the specific objection to the setting of an expert witness fee without an evidentiary hearing, the prevailing party will have to present testimony concerning the necessity and reasonableness of the fee." The Court accordingly reversed and remanded for entry of a cost judgment consistent with the Court’s opinion. Most notably, the Court did not remand for further evidentiary proceedings concerning the costs, but instead appears to have concluded that the plaintiff had waived the right to such an evidentiary proceeding by not previously presenting evidence on these issues.

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