Monday, May 21, 2012

Payment of Physician for Deposition Testimony

    Because being at a deposition means that a physician has been taken away from his livelihood of treating patients, fairness requires that the physician be paid for their professional time.  Without payment, usually in advance, physicians will understandably refuse to cooperate in scheduling their deposition.  At times, this surprises clients.

   What is more surprising is the amount that physicians charge as a "deposition fee."  In a recent case, a New York clinic required payment of $11,000 in advance as the "deposition fee" for a physician's assistant and a physiatrist.  If an additional $1,500 was paid, the clinic would allow the physician to discuss the case with me before the deposition.  A spinal clinic in Denver charged $7,000 for the deposition of a 2 hour deposition of a spinal surgeon.  In the end, these fees are the client's responsibility as a necessary cost of the case.

    What is even more surprising, however, is the inflexibility of physician's offices to refund any portion of the deposition fee should the deposition be cancelled.   In both of the above cases, clinics refused to refund any portion of the fee despite settlement agreements that provided 2 weeks notice of deposition cancellation.  Particularly when the fees are the client's responsibility, it is hard to believe that  2 weeks notice does not allow a physician adequate rescheduling time to put the cancelled deposition time to productive use.  It is also hard to believe that physicians would impose a cost like this on their patients.

  In the end, these practices require the lawyer and client to develop a settlement strategy that avoids unnecessary expenses.  You have to play your hand smartly.  See