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MCDONALD v. VILLAGE OF WINNETKA

April 29, 2003

CHARLES M. MCDONALD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VILLAGE OF WINNETKA, WINNETKA FIRE CHIEF RONALD J. COLPAERT, SCOTT SMITH, AND ILLINOIS STATE FIRE MARSHAL SPECIAL AGENT MITCHELL S. KUSHNER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John W. Darrah, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, Charles M. McDonald ("McDonald"), filed suit against Defendants, alleging deprivation of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a claim of intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress pursuant to Illinois law. Subsequently, Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment as to McDonald's Section 1983 claims were granted, and McDonald's state law pendent claim was dismissed without prejudice. Presently before the Court are the Village of Winnetka's, Ronald Colpaert's, and Scott Smith's (collectively "Winnetka") Bill of Costs and Mitchell Kushner's Bill of Costs.

"Costs . . . shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d). Recoverable costs, as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1920, include: (1) fees of the clerk, (2) fees for transcripts, (3) fees for printing and witnesses, (4) fees for copies of papers necessarily obtained for use in the case, (5) docket fees, and (6) compensation of court-appointed experts and interpreters.

There is a strong presumption favoring the award of costs to the prevailing party. Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indus. Co., 126 F.3d 926, 945 (7th Cir. 1997) (Weeks). "The presumption is difficult to overcome, and the district court's discretion is narrowly confined — the court must award costs unless it states good reasons for denying them." Weeks, 126 F.3d at 945.

I. Winnetka's Bill of Costs

Winnetka seeks a total of $10,496.90 for various deposition-related costs, including transcription, condensed transcripts, copying, court reporter attendance fees, delivery charges, and copies of exhibits.

The costs of deposition transcripts "necessarily obtained for use in the case" are authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 1920 (2). The transcripts need not be absolutely indispensable in order to provide the basis of an award of costs; it is enough that they are "reasonably necessary". Barber v. Ruth, 7 F.3d 636, 645 (7th Cir. 1993). The Judicial Conference has established $3.30 as the rate per page for an original transcript, $4.40 per page for each expedited copy, $0.83 per page for the first copy of a transcript, and $0.55 per page for each additional copy to the same party.

Plaintiff does not dispute the number of depositions taken or the costs related to the transcription, copying, and court reporter attendance fees. Winnetka seeks transcription of depositions at the rate of $3.00 per page, copies at the rate of $0.75 per page, and court reporter attendance fees ranging in fees of $35 per hour to $95 per hour. The transcription and copying rates are below the established rate by the Judicial Conference and are awarded. The court reporter attendance fees are also reasonable and are awarded.

Plaintiff argues that the $360 in fees sought for condensed transcripts are not recoverable. Winnetka argues that the condensed transcripts saved considerable time, space, and copying expense. However, condensed transcripts, as a second copy, are generally not recoverable. See Hardy v. University of Illinois, Chicago, 2002 WL 2022602 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 3, 2002) (Hardy); Ochana v. Flores, 206 F. Supp.2d 941, 945 (N.D. Ill. 2002) (Ochana); Sanglap v. LaSalle Bank, 194 F. Supp.2d 798, 803 (N.D. Ill. 2002) (Sanglap). Accordingly, the $360 in fees for condensed transcripts are not recoverable.

Plaintiff also argues that the $162 in delivery charges for the deposition transcripts is not recoverable. While the court may, in its discretion, award incidental costs including delivery charges, Finchum v. Ford Motor Co., 57 F.3d 526, 534 (7th Cir. 1995), under the Judicial Conference guidelines, postage or delivery costs are considered ordinary business expenses and are not chargeable in relation to obtaining transcripts. See Alexander v. CIT Tech. Fin. Serv., 222 F. Supp.2d 1087, 1090 (N.D. Ill. 2002); Antonson v. United Armored Serv., Inc., 2002 WL 908424 (N.D. Ill. May 6, 2002); COURT REPORTER MANUAL, ch. 20, pt. 20.9.4. Accordingly, Winnetka is not awarded the $162 in delivery charges.

Plaintiff next disputes $624 in deposition exhibit copy costs that Winnetka seeks to recover. In their reply brief, Winnetka withdrew their request for the deposition exhibit copy costs. Accordingly, the $624 is not awarded.

Based on the above, Winnetka is awarded $9,350.50 in deposition costs.

Winnetka seeks $5,630.25 at the rate of $0.25 per page for 22,521 copies that it produced to Plaintiff in discovery. Winnetka contends that the rate of $0.25 per page is reasonable because it is the amount charged set by resolution of the Winnetka Village Council, the copying of the files was exceptionally labor-intensive, and much of the copying had to be in-house rather than by a public copying service because much of the copying involved confidential personnel files.

Plaintiff argues that a rate of $0.10 to $0.13 per page is reasonable as this is the rate of an outside print shop. See Haroco, Inc. v. American Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. of Chicago, 38 F.3d 1429, 1441 (7th Cir. 1994). Copy rates of $0.10 to $0.20 have been found to be reasonable. See Pendleton v. LaSalle Nat. Bank, 2002 WL 1880124 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 12, 2002); Martino v. California Fed. Bank, 2002 WL 731153 (N.D. Ill. April ...


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