The Federal District Court was asked to rule on reasonableness of the Mr. Sagalow’s fees. In a decision taking into consideration 5 factors (the witness’s area of expertise, education and training, prevailing rates for other comparable experts, nature and complexity of the responses, fees traditional charged by the expert on related matters and cost of living in particular geographic area), the Court held in favor of Mr. Sagalow’s fees ($700/hr), reasoning as follows:
[In this case, counsel representing the party seeking Mr. Sagalow’s expert deposition has argued] that Sagalow’s fees are “unreasonable” and that “Sagalow’s unreasonable fee schedule should be reduced to an amount consistent with the hourly rates charged by other expert witnesses designated in this case… and that his preparation time be limited to ½ of his deposition time”. For a fee to be reasonable, ‘there must be some reasonable relationship between the services rendered and the remuneration to which the expert is entitled.” (Decision at pages 1,2)
Applying the  factors in this case, the court notes that Mr. Sagalow is a graduate of Georgetown University and subsequently received an L.L.M from New York University School of Law. He also practices law and held numerous positions in the insurance industry, such as chief underwriter for two large insurance companies, as well as serving as general counsel for AIG Insurance and National Union Insurance Company.’ (Decision at page 3)
Having applied the factors to this matter, the court holds that Sagalow’s hourly rate is not unreasonable and [opposing party] shall compensate Sagalow at this rate, $700/hr, for the time he actually spends attending the deposition. Furthermore, the courts holds that [opposing party] shall also be liable for Sagalow’s preparation time, if any, provided that such time is reasonable.” (Decision at page 4)
Though Sagalow’s hourly rate was found reasonable under the factors discussed, the court would point out that this is not a case where one party’s expert was billing the opposing part at an inflated rate. Rather [the party retaining Sagalow] has been paying Sagalow $700.00 hourly rate since he was first retained as an expert. Therefore, fairness dictates that [opposing party] should not be allowed to benefit from [retaining party’s] discovery at a discounted price.” (Decision at pages 4-5)
Note: Travel time was not an issue in this case.
For a copy of the full decision, click here.
David a. Sanders
United States District Court
Northern District of Mississippi
September 5, 2015