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Chambers v. Chambers

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District

December 30, 2003

LARRY W. CHAMBERS, ET AL, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
RHONDA S. CHAMBERS, Defendant-Appellee.

COUNSEL FOR APPELLANTS: D. Scott Bowling LAMBERT, MCWHORTER & BOWLING CO., L.P.A.

COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: John R. Haas RUGGIERO & HAAS

DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

David T. Evans, Presiding Judge

{¶1} Plaintiffs-Appellants Larry W. Chambers and Brenda Chambers appeal the judgment of the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas, which denied their request for reimbursement of costs associated with the taking of two depositions. Appellants assert that the expense of the depositions of two medical experts should have been included as costs and reimbursed to them. Accordingly, appellants conclude that the trial court erred by not awarding them the cost of the two depositions.

{¶2} For the following reasons, we disagree and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lower Court Proceedings

{¶3} On May 13, 2000, Plaintiffs-Appellants Larry W. and Brenda Chambers were passengers in a vehicle driven by their daughter Defendant-Appellee Rhonda S. Chambers. Due to Rhonda's failure to control the vehicle, the vehicle left the roadway and rolled over. Appellants were both injured as a result of the accident.

{¶4} In October 2001, Larry and Brenda filed a complaint against Rhonda and her insurance company asserting that Rhonda was negligent in her operation of the vehicle. Rhonda admitted liability for Larry and Brenda's injuries, but denied the extent of the injuries claimed by her parents.

{¶5} A jury trial was held on the issue of damages in September 2002. At trial, appellants presented the testimony of two medical experts, Dr. D.J. Carey and Dr. Panos Ignatiadis. Dr. Carey's testimony was presented at trial by way of his deposition being read into the record. Dr. Ignatiadis testified by way of a videotape deposition. The jury returned a verdict in favor of appellants, entering judgment in favor of Larry and Brenda, awarding them $15, 000 and $10, 000 respectively.

{¶6} Subsequently, appellants filed a motion for costs, seeking reimbursement for the following expenses and amounts: (1) $200 - filing fee; (2) $362.40 - transcript of Dr. Carey's deposition testimony; (3) $154 - videotape of Dr. Ignatiadis' deposition testimony; and (4) $292.05 - transcript of Dr. Ignatiadis' deposition testimony. The trial court ruled on appellants' motion and ordered that appellee reimburse appellants $354 for the filing fee and videotape of Dr. Ignatiadis' testimony. However, the trial court found that the $362.40 for Dr. Carey's transcript, which was read into the record at trial, and the $292.05 for the transcript of Dr. Ignatiadis' deposition testimony were not reimbursable as costs.

The Appeal

{¶7} Appellants appeal the decision of the trial court denying them reimbursement for the remaining expenses and present the following assignment of error for our review: "The trial court erred in failing to reimburse plaintiffs for the costs of transcripts used in plaintiffs' case-in-chief at trial."

{¶8} At the outset, we note that appellants are not seeking reimbursement for expert witness fees. Generally, expert witness fees are not taxable as costs. See Beal v. State Farm Ins. Co. (1999) 132 Ohio App.3d 203, 724 N.E.2d 860; Coleman v. Jagniszcak (1995) 104 Ohio App.3d 413, 662 N.E.2d 91. Rather, appellants are seeking reimbursement for payments made to the court reporters for the production of transcripts of the doctors' depositions.

{¶9} Civ.R. 54(D) provides: "Except when express provision therefor is made either in a statute or in these rules, costs shall be allowed to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs." This rule grants the trial court broad discretion to assess costs, and the court's ruling will not be reversed absent an abuse of that discretion. See Vance v. Roedersheimer, 64 Ohio St.3d 552, 555, 1992-0hio-24, 597 N.E.2d 153; Gnepper v. Beegle (1992), 84 Ohio App.3d 259, 263, 616 N.E.2d 960. Therefore, to successfully appeal the taxing of costs, an appellant must demonstrate that a trial court's determination that an expense is or is not a "cost" within the ...


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