Because the court is bound by its sound discretion, it may consider the circumstances from which a reasonable award of costs for witness fees may be administered. In the context of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-260(f), the statute governing witness fees in general, there has been a split of authority in the Connecticut Superior Court as to whether expert preparation time should be included in the costs awarded in a civil action.
Plaintiff property owners, Susette Kelo, et al., initially sought declaratory judgments as to various actions taken by the defendant, City of New London in exercising the power of eminent domain over certain property. The city ultimately prevailed and subsequently requested court costs pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-257. The property owners objected to costs for indemnity fees, examination of land records, maps, plans, photographs, and witness fees.
Under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-257, should the defendant, City of New London be granted court costs (i.e. indemnity fees, examination of land records, maps, plans, photographs, and witness fees)?
Yes, as regards indemnity fees, costs associated with exhibits, and witness fees.
The court held that the matters before it were both extraordinary and difficult. Thus, it awarded indemnity fees. Because of the uncertainty between the parties as to when the examination of the land records actually occurred and for what purpose, it was inequitable to permit costs where the examination of the land records might have been conducted prior to the commencement of the present action, and not in preparation for the underlying litigation. Therefore, costs for the examination of the land records were not awarded. The city asserted that the maps, plans and/or photographs were actually used at trial as exhibits. There was no showing that those exhibits were produced or constructed prior to the commencement of the present case. Thus, costs were awarded for those exhibits. Witness fees were awarded for trial testimony, testimony preparation time, and mileage.