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Charge for my time at a deposition?

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Mark Landman
Charge for my time at a deposition?
on Aug 19, 2009 at 5:14:54 pm

Here's the situation in a nutshell: I recently produced a video for a law firm in the next county. The video was a victim impact statement used during the settlement phase of a lawsuit my client filed on behalf the family of a woman that was killed in an automobile accident. The client promptly paid for my work and all seemed well.

Today I received a Subpoena for Deposition and Subpoena Duces Tecum from the other side in the case. I need to travel to my client's office (about 40 miles away) and bring all documents, raw footage and any other materials related to the project. This will require about 1.5 to 2 hours travel time plus the time spent gathering materials, printing emails, making copies of the raw footage - not to mention the deposition itself.

This is going to cut into the better part of two days' income, so my question is this - am I justified in charging my client for my time? I'm assuming that my client (the plaintiff's attorney) is charging for his time - why shouldn't I?

Mark Landman
PM Productions
Champaign, IL


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Mark Suszko
Re: Charge for my time at a deposition?
on Aug 19, 2009 at 7:41:44 pm

Tough call; you really should have had a memorandum of understanding from the get-go that the lawyer who used you would also be on the hook for these added costs later. I expect he knew this was coming but didn't offer the extra pay, maybe wouldn't unless you brought it up. That's a bad sign IMO.

I would say tell him you are billing him half your hourly rate for the appearance and travel; he's just going to pass the cost on to his client, or if he wins, the other client. But you might have to wait until the case gets decided.

Next time start with an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) that says you're getting paid for all related work or appearances, at what rate, and that you're getting paid regardless of the status of the case, within 15 days of service.



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grinner hester
Re: Charge for my time at a deposition?
on Aug 19, 2009 at 8:39:16 pm

The bast thing to do is boldy ask the atty that hired you first. I'd be inclined to bill the dude asking for the new services though... a very handsom rate. I'm thinking your atty will like that as well.



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David Roth Weiss
Re: Charge for my time at a deposition?
on Aug 19, 2009 at 9:32:15 pm

[Mark Suszko] "I would say tell him you are billing him half your hourly rate for the appearance and travel;"
Mark,

What??? Mark is a professional witness in a legal trial. I promise you, Dr. Henry Lee doesn't charge anything less than full rate when he's called to testify, and neither should Mark. If they have anything to say about it let them speak up.

And BTW mark, when you get paid your full day rate I'd like my commission in tens and twenties please.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Jason Wietholter
Re: Charge for my time at a deposition?
on Aug 23, 2009 at 4:51:22 am

Having been in similar situations, I can definitely tell you that it is appropriate for you to charge for your time regarding a project you had done at an attorney's request.

If you were merely a witness to an event, that would be one thing, but in this case, you are being called to (I assume) validate your video that you recorded on behalf of the attorney. Definitely bill for your time and I would definitely speak to the attorney you are working for so there isn't an awkward situation when they receive the bill.

Jason Wietholter
Email: me@jasonwietholter.com
Twitter: @jasonwietholter


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