Court Upholds $143,809 in Costs Awarded for Preparation of a Single Exhibit

It sounds crazy in the abstract, not so much in the context of the case decided in the Fifth District of the California Court of Appeal, El Dorado Meat Co. v. Yosemite Meat and Locker Service, Inc., ___ Cal.Rptr.3d ___, case no. F049334 (May 4, 2007).  The court characterized the action as a “complex suit” in which plaintiff alleged a variety of business torts including antitrust, RICO and unfair competition claims. The single exhibit was actually “a 37-page document containing charts and graphs that were projected on a screen during trial” and was prepared from 160,000 pages of business and financial records produced by the parties in discovery.  The costs included more than $111,000 for personnel to compile and enter data from the records, more than $30,000 for copying, and a little over $2,000 for the electronic equipment to project the exhibit on screen at trial.  Though it found some of the evidentiary support to be “light,” the court held that the trial court was within its discretion to award the costs: “Given the nature of the case, Yosemite could not mount its defense without presenting years’ worth of its own and El Dorado’s business data.  Given the volume of the data, Yosemite could not present it without summaries.

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