When A Court Reporter Charges Too Much For Deposition Transcripts, The Remedy Is To Ask The Court To Set The Rate – Not To Sue The Reporter
The Las Canoas Company v. Kramer
(Cal. Ct. of App., 2d Dist.), filed May 7, 2013
Las Canoas was a defendant in a construction defects case. However, it was not brought into the case until after 57 depositions had been taken. Its attorney requested the court reporter to provide copies of the depositions. The court reporter quoted a rate of $2 per page, bringing the cost to about $16,000. Las Canoas offered to pay a $30 flat rate in exchange for a computer disc containing uncertified copies of the transcripts and exhibits. The court reporter did not agree. Las Canoas later purchased copies of three depositions at the rate of $2 per page, at a cost of about $1,200. It did not challenge the court reporter’s rate in the particular action.
About four years later, Las Canoas sued the court reporter. It alleges that it was entitled to copies at a reasonable rate pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.510(c), and that the court reporter’s rates were “unlawful” and “unfair” within the meaning of Business and Professions Code section 17200, et seq. Las Canoas sought restitution for excessive fees and an injunction to impose one of four limits on the court reporter’s future rate for copies furnished to non-noticing parties. It also requests costs of suit and attorney fees under the private attorney general doctrine.
The trial court sustained the court reporter’s demurrer without leave to amend.
The Court of Appeal affirmed.
A trial court has statutory authority to determine the “reasonable rate” a court reporter may charge a “non-noticing party” for copies of deposition transcripts in a pending action. However, a non-noticing party who does not move for such an order in the pending action may not bring a subsequent action to obtain restitution for “unreasonable” copy charges or obtain injunctive relief setting a “reasonable rate” to be charged by that court reporter in all future actions.