24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196




When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

Motions for Cost-Shifting for Federal Subpoena Compliance


Motions for Cost-Shifting for Federal Subpoena Compliance

Getting hit with a federal subpoena can be a real pain, I feel you. Having to dig through piles of documents or put your business operations on hold to comply takes time and money. And if you’re not even a party to the lawsuit, it probably feels pretty unfair to have to foot the bill just because someone decided they want your information. Luckily, there are options to make the party who served you pay up through “cost-shifting” motions. I’ll walk through what these are, how they work, and when you can file one.

What is Cost-Shifting?

Cost-shifting is exactly what it sounds like – shifting the costs of complying with a subpoena from the non-party recipient (that’s you) to the party who issued it. These costs can include things like collecting, reviewing, and producing documents, or travel expenses for deposition testimony. The court can order the requesting party to pay some or all of these costs so you’re not stuck holding the bag.

How Cost-Shifting Motions Work

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 allows non-parties to file motions to shift costs. Here’s a quick rundown of how it works:

  • File a motion in the court where compliance is required or the court that issued the subpoena (check local rules!).
  • Explain why complying would be an “undue burden or expense.” Think volume of documents, disruption to operations, etc.
  • Ask the court to order the requesting party to pay all or part of your reasonable compliance costs.
  • If granted, the requesting party has to pay up before you fully comply.

Courts don’t rubber stamp these motions – you need to show real burden or expense. But many courts have said cost shifting is mandatory when compliance costs are “significant.” So don’t be shy about asking for help with the bill!

When Can You File for Cost-Shifting?

You need to file your motion before the subpoena’s compliance deadline. Don’t wait until after you’ve already turned everything over, or the court will say too bad, so sad. Here are some common scenarios:

  • Subpoena demands unreasonable volume of documents – File a motion to shift costs of production.
  • Subpoena requires expert analysis or review – File a motion to shift expert fees.
  • Subpoena demands onsite inspection – File a motion to shift travel costs.
  • Subpoena causes major business interruption – File a motion to shift costs of business loss.

Get creative and don’t be shy – the more unreasonable the subpoena seems, the better your case for cost-shifting. And don’t let the requestor bully you into compliance by saying you “have to” comply before the court rules – file that motion first!

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

What Costs Can You Recover?

You can potentially recover costs that are directly related to subpoena compliance, such as:

  • Collection costs – Gathering, processing, searching, reviewing documents
  • Production costs – Duplication, data processing, etc.
  • Legal fees – Consulting a lawyer about compliance
  • Expert fees – Paying an expert to analyze information
  • Business interruption – Employees pulled away from normal work
  • Travel expenses – Airfare, lodging, transportation, meals

Courts scrutinize the reasonableness of claimed costs, so keep detailed records and be prepared to justify the expenses. You probably won’t recover 100% of costs – the goal is to reduce the burden to a “non-significant” level.

How Much Can You Recover?

The amount of cost-shifting varies wildly between courts. Some courts shift just a token amount like 10-20%, while others order 100% reimbursement. Factors courts may consider include:

  • Total cost of compliance vs. subpoenaing party’s resources
  • Whether you have an interest in the lawsuit
  • Your relationship to the parties
  • Whether compliance benefits you in any way
  • Amount in controversy in the case

Bottom line – the more unreasonable and burdensome the subpoena seems, the better your case for a large cost shift. Don’t be shy about asking for 100% reimbursement if you can show significant burden or expense.

What if the Subpoena is Overly Broad?

Sometimes you can avoid cost-shifting motions altogether by negotiating the scope of the subpoena. If it asks for way more than seems relevant to the case, push back. Offer to produce a smaller set of documents or data if they’ll withdraw the subpoena. Get any agreements in writing!

You can also file a motion to quash or modify the subpoena if it’s overly broad. This asks the court to toss out or narrow the subpoena before you have to comply. The court may be more willing to do this if you can show the subpoena imposes undue burden or expense.

Can You Recover Costs of Your Motion?

This is a tricky one – some courts allow recovery of reasonable costs spent on your motion, like attorney’s fees. But some courts hold that only the actual compliance costs can be shifted. Better to focus your motion on recouping compliance costs rather than motion costs.

What if They Don’t Pay?

If the court grants your cost-shifting motion but the requesting party doesn’t pay up, you may be able to get the court to hold them in contempt or impose sanctions. But you’ll probably need to file another motion to enforce the cost-shifting order. Don’t count on getting blood from a stone – the party may not have the money.

Before it gets to that point, try negotiating payment plans or installment schedules if they can’t pay the full amount up front. Get any payment agreements in writing and approved by the court to avoid enforcement issues later. Don’t let it drag on forever without payment – follow up promptly with the court if there are issues.

Subpoena Cost-Shifting Tips

Here are my top tips for getting those pesky subpoena costs shifted:

  • Act fast – file your motion before the compliance deadline.
  • Keep meticulous records of compliance costs to justify the amount.
  • Hire a lawyer to improve your chances of a favorable ruling.
  • Emphasize any business disruption or expert help needed.
  • Negotiate payment plans if they can’t pay lump sum.
  • Follow up promptly if they don’t pay as agreed.

Dealing with subpoenas is a pain, but you shouldn’t have to go broke complying with one aimed at someone else’s lawsuit. Don’t let them stick you with the bill – get those costs shifted! Let me know if you have any other questions.


[1] Motions for Cost-Shifting for Federal Subpoena Compliance

[2] Cost-Shifting and Document Subpoena Compliance Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia

[3] Recovering the Costs of Responding to a Nonparty Subpoena

[4] Shifting Costs for Responding to Subpoenas Under FRCP 45

[5] Fresh Takes on Seeking Costs and Fees Under Rule 45

[6] Mandatory Cost-Shifting for Compliance With Nonparty Subpoenas?

Schedule Your Consultation Now