legal practice." Wehr v. Burroughs Corp., 619 at 285.
At least one district court in the Ninth Circuit has adopted the latter view. See Robinson v. Ariyoshi, 703 F. Supp. at 1436. The district court recognized that various courts have not agreed on whether computer-aided legal research should be taxed as a separate cost. Id. at 1436. However, the court agreed with United Nuclear Corp. v. Cannon, 564 F. Supp. at 591-92, and held that, "Lexis is an essential tool of a modern efficient office. As such, it saves lawyers' time by increasing the efficacy of legal research..." Robinson at 1436-37. Thus, the court in Robinson determined that computerized legal research should be allowed as a taxable cost. Id.
Given the complexity of the issues, this Court does not doubt that computerized research played an essential role in the litigation at hand. The request for computerized legal expenses should be granted in full.
Costs of depositions are recoverable only if necessarily obtained for use in the case. Alflex Corp. v. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., 914 F.2d 175, 177-78 (9th Cir. 1990). However, "except as otherwise ordered by the court, only the cost of the original of such transcript or deposition together with the cost of one copy each where needed by counsel shall...be allowed." Id. at 178.
Although the Ninth Circuit has disallowed deposition expenses for depositions not used at trial, the allowance of the request is ultimately within the discretion of the trial court. Washington State Dept. of Transp. v. Washington State Natural Gas Co., 51 F.3d 1489, 1501 (9th Cir. 1995) According to the Ninth Circuit, the trial court does not abuse its discretion in awarding deposition costs so long as the court makes an independent determination that the deposition costs were necessary and the court details why each deposition was necessary. See Smith v. Hughes Aircraft Co., 22 F.3d 1432, 1439 (9th Cir. 1994).
The request for deposition expenses is not before the Court at the present time, for as plaintiffs' counsel has indicated in its application for costs and expenses, the deposition phase is in its beginning stages. Plaint.'s Memo. of P & A at 4. It is not clear at this time whether the depositions conducted were essential to the Settlement.
This Court recommends that at this stage of the litigation, the Court should deny the requests for expenses related to depositions and meetings, including transcript and witness fees. An application for fees associated with depositions may be requested at the end of the deposition stage.
Costs not normally absorbed as part of law firm overhead may be reimbursed when incurred by the attorney while in the course of providing legal services if such costs are normally charged to the client. Ramos v. Lamm, 713 F.2d 546, 559 (10th Cir. 1983). Reimbursement for filing and service of process fees are also allowed in this district under Civil L.R. 54-3(a).
A filing or serving fee is unquestionably a necessary expense of every litigation. It seems that reasonable filing fees are reimbursable as long as the fees are billed to the client(s) as separate expenses.
Given the above, this Court recommends that plaintiffs' counsel's request for filing and service fees should be granted in full. However, this Court recommends denying filing fees to several of the firms who have managed to combine their request for filing fees expenses together with attorneys services and witness fees. At this time, such requests should be denied until the firms separate the fees requested.
In addition to the foregoing costs, plaintiffs' counsel seeks reimbursement for "other" expenses including: special secretarial/word processing, velobinding, visual equipment, books/publications/subscriptions and office supplies.
As previously discussed, within the discretion of the trial judge, litigation related costs are reimbursable as long as they are necessary expenses incurred in furnishing effective representation, and are not regarded by the court as overhead expenses absorbed by counsel. See Thornberry v. Delta Air Lines, 676 F.2d at 1244.
This Court recommends that plaintiffs' counsel request for the above-mentioned expenses be denied. These expenses should be absorbed by counsel as part of the cost incurred in operating a legal practice.
However, each firm's contribution to plaintiffs' litigation fund (assessment fees) clearly should be reimbursed, as such expenses were reasonably and necessarily related to the creation of the Settlement Fund.
This Court is greatly concerned about the excessive costs requested as reimbursement expenses by plaintiffs' counsel. It is highly unlikely that the class members intended to reimburse counsel for first class airplane tickets, luxury hotel accommodations, and gourmet dinner meetings.
This Court is also troubled by some of the firms' attempt to make a profit on nonlegal services that are ordinarily absorbed as overhead expenses.
This Court further recommends that the Court order plaintiffs' counsel to submit all future applications for costs and expenses in a detailed format, which breaks down the amounts requested and outlines the necessity of each expense. This Court found the lump sum figures initially submitted by plaintiffs' counsel unhelpful, forcing this Court to issue several orders for supplemental documentation.
Finally, this Court would like to remind counsel of the District Court's (Hon. Eugene F. Lynch) July 14, 1995 Order, which specifically addressed the issue of future costs and expenses. This Court recommends that with respect to counsel's future travel plans, the term "unusual expenditures," referred to in the July Order, should specifically include any extensive travel anticipated by counsel. Counsel should be ordered to obtain a clearance from the Court before such expenses are incurred. A similar recommendation applies to counsel's use of nonlegal experts.
DATED: December 15, 1995
F. STEELE LANGFORD
Chief Magistrate Judge