Nearly every lawsuit asks for recovery of attorney fees, costs and expenses for bringing the action. When potential clients contact my office for the first time for a civil litigation matter, the most common question asked is whether attorney fees are recoverable.
Attorney fees are generally not recoverable. There are exceptions to this rule, such as when authorized by statute (ie some employment discrimination cases), court rule, or as agreed to by the parties. The case law is rather exhaustive on this subject. I still recall my contract professor in law school engaging my first year contract class on this issue through the use of the socratic method.
Under the English system, the loser of a lawsuit pays for attorney fee’s. However, this was changed in the United States, and under the the American rule, each party has to pay for their own legal costs. This law was established to protect people and businesses who have small budgets who would not be able to start a lawsuit against a company or individual who has deep pockets.
Following a judgment, your lawyer can include a bill of costs. This legal document will list the costs and expenses that you can recover in addition to your judgment. They include the following:
- Filing fee for the summons and complaint
- Jury Fees
- Depositions used at trial
- Service of summons by Officer or Process Server
- Service of subpeona by Officer or Process Server
- Statuatory Witness Fees
- Lay Expert Witness Fees and Expenses. But regular expert witness fees, such as for a medical doctor in a personal injury action or a forensic accountant in a trademark claim, are not recoverable.
If you have a question about what fees and expenses are recoverable in New York State, contact me at the Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson at 212-233-0666.
The above is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. This is free. Legal advice is something you pay for.