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HIGBEE v. SENTRY INSURANCE CO.

June 11, 2004.

ROSEMARY HIGBEE, Plaintiff,
v.
SENTRY INSURANCE CO., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MATHEW KENNELLY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

A jury found against Rosemary Higbee on her claims against Sentry Insurance Company under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Sentry has petitioned the Court pursuant to Rule 54(d)(1) and 28 U.S.C. § 1920 for an award of costs in the amount of $24,291.12. Higbee has objected to specific aspects of Sentry's petition and also asks the Court to deny the petition in its entirety on the grounds that she is unable to pay a cost award. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Sentry's petition, but only in the amount of $8,460.49.

Discussion

  Under Rule 54, "[c]osts other than attorneys' fees shall be allowed as a matter of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). The costs recoverable under Rule 54(d)(1) are those specified in 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Cengr v. Fusibond Piping Systems, Inc., 135 F.3d 445, 454 (7th Cir. 1998). Section 1920 permits a court to tax as costs the fees of the clerk and marshal; the fees of the court reporter "for all or any part of the stenographic transcript necessarily obtained for use in the case"; fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses; fees "for exemplification and copies of papers necessarily obtained for use in the case"; and other items not relevant here. 28 U.S.C. § 1920.

  1. Fees of the court reporter

  a. Deposition expenses

  Deposition costs, including the costs of deposition transcripts, are recoverable under § 1920(2). Cengr, 135 F.3d at 454. Under Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 54.1(b), "the costs of the transcript or deposition shall not exceed the regular copy rate as established by the Judicial Conference of the United States and in effect at the time the transcript or deposition was filed unless some other rate was previously provided for by order of court." N.D. Ill. LR 54.1(b). The rate cap established in the Local Rule applies to deposition charges by private court reporters. Cengr, 135 F.3d at 456. The regular copy rate established by the Judicial Conference at all times relevant to the case was $3.00 for the original transcript and $0.75 for the first copy.

  The Court rejects Sentry's request for reimbursement for fees charged for extra, condensed-copy transcripts and ASCII disks of depositions transcripts. Section 1920(2) requires a transcript to be "necessarily obtained for use in the case" for its cost to be recoverable. Under ordinary circumstances, the statute does not permit reimbursement for more than one copy of a deposition; in any event, Sentry has failed to show that these items were obtained out of necessity rather than for the convenience of counsel. See, e.g., Williams v. Valtierra, No. 00 C 5734, 2002 WL 424634, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 19, 2002) (citing cases).

  Second, the Court agrees with Higbee that the request for reimbursement of the reporters' delivery charges and charges for making copies of exhibits are not recoverable. See, e.g., Rogers v. City of Chicago, No. 00 C 2227, 2002 WL 423723, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 15, 2002) (Leinenweber, J.). With regard to the exhibits, Sentry has failed to allege, much less show, that these were anything more than extra copies of documents it already had. See Cengr, 135 F.3d at 456-57 (denying request for reimbursement of court reporters' charges for duplicating exhibits used at depositions).

  In addition to seeking reimbursement of the cost of deposition transcripts, Sentry also requests reimbursement of hourly or fixed "appearance" fees charged by private court reporters. Though this Court has allowed reimbursement such fees on some prior occasions, we are persuaded by Judge Leinenweber's conclusion in Rogers that they are not recoverable to the extent they make the overall cost of the deposition transcript exceed the regular-copy rates approved by the Judicial Conference. See Rogers, 2002 WL 423723, at *3 (rates approved by Judicial Conference cover all costs of transcript production).

  With these considerations in mind, the following expenses are properly recoverable:

  Recoverable Deponent amount Basis

 Rosemary Higbee $1,800.00 600 pages; $1,771.95 charged for transcript, plus the portion of the attendance charges that does not make the total exceed $3.00 per page Roland Higbee $297.00 99 pages; per page charge exceeded $3.00 Jamie Tarkowski $80.25 transcript copy; 107 pages at $0.75 per page C. Vedak $294.00 98 pages; per page charge exceeded $3.00 Linda Dods $459.00 153 pages; per page charge exceeded $3.00 Sandra Bonifas $67.50 transcript copy; 90 pages at $0.75 per page Marcella Ehlert $14.25 transcript copy; 19 pages at $0.75 per page Anieda Krause $12.75 transcript copy; 17 pages at $0.75 per page Ted Francsis $57.00 transcript copy; 76 pages at $0.75 per page Richard Lang $119.25 ...


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