The California Supreme Court recently ruled that the plaintiffs in Serrano v. Stefan Merli Plastering Co, S183372, enforced an important right affecting the public interest. That right is the right to a reasonable deposition fee charged by a court reporter. In Serrano, a court reporter, who was hired by the attorney taking the deposition, charged excessive fees to the plaintiffs’ attorney who asked for a copy of the transcript of the deposition. The plaintiffs objected to the extra fees, and they won an appeal establishing that the trial court had the authority to determine the reasonableness of the fee charged by the court reporter to the non-noticing party.
In making its ruling, the Supreme Court held that court reporters perform a public service that is important to the people involved in the litigation and to the public at large. The Court concluded that the reporting service acted adverse to the public interest. Consequently, the Court agreed with the plaintiffs that they were entitled to attorneys’ fees for acting as a “private attorney general” and by fighting these excessive fees.