The opinion of the court was delivered by: AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On August 13, 2004, the Court granted summary judgment in favor
of Defendant Loyola University of Chicago. Defendant proceeded to
file a Bill of Costs seeking $7,958.92. Specifically, Defendant
seeks: 1) $6,458.09 for court reporting and transcription; 2)
$1,296.83 for exemplification and photocopying; and 3) $204.00
for computerized legal research. Plaintiff objects and asks the
Court to deny the entire Bill of Costs or, in the alternative, to
reduce the Bill of Costs to $6,364.06.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) provides that "costs
other than attorneys' fees shall be allowed as of course to the
prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs."
Fed.R.Civ. P. 54(d)(1). Recoverable costs include: 1) clerk and marshal
fees; 2) fees for necessary transcripts obtained for use in the
case; 3) witness fees and expenses; 4) fees for copies of papers
necessarily obtained for use in the case; 5) docket fees; and 6)
compensation for court-appointed experts and interpreters. See
28 U.S.C. § 1920; see also Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indus. Co.,
Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 945 (7th Cir. 1997). There is a strong
presumption in favor of awarding costs to the prevailing party
under Rule 54(d). Majeske v. City of Chicago, 218 F.3d 816, 824
(7th Cir. 2000). This presumption is difficult to overcome,
and the Court's discretion is narrowly confined it must award costs unless it establishes good reasons
for denying them. Weeks, 126 F.3d at 945. The Court may tax
costs against the non-prevailing party when the cost imposed is
recoverable and the amount assessed is reasonable. Majeske,
218 F.3d at 824.
Generally, courts may deny costs for two reasons: 1) the
prevailing party engaged in misconduct worthy of a penalty; or 2)
the losing party is unable to pay. Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indus.
Co., Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 945 (7th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff
argues that he is unable to pay costs because of a substantial
loss of money and indebtedness due to a series of tragic events.
Defendant argues that a claim of financial difficulty is
insufficient to warrant a court's denial of costs.
To overcome the presumption that costs are to be awarded to the
prevailing party, the losing party must demonstrate that he is
indigent. McGill v. Faulkner, 18 F.3d 456, 459 (7th Cir.
1994); Badillo v. Central Steel & Wire Co., 717 F.2d 1160, 1165
(7th Cir. 1983). It is not enough that the losing party shows
that he has limited financial resources. Burroughs v. Hills,
741 F.2d 1525, 1533 (7th Cir. 1984); Washington v. Village
of Riverside Illinois, No. 01 C 7438, 2003 WL 21789000, at *2
(N.D. Ill Aug. 4, 2003). "It is unfortunate that the costs may be
large and the losing [party] may be hard-pressed to pay them, but
we cannot find in those circumstances a good basis for denying
costs . . . under Rule 54(d). . . ." Delta Air Lines, Inc. v.
Colbert, 692 F.2d 489, 491 (7th Cir. 1982). Further, the
losing party must establish that not only is he presently unable
to pay costs, but also that he will likely be unable to pay costs
in the future. McGill, 18 F.3d at 459. Plaintiff testifies that several tragic accidents have depleted
his savings and left him deeply indebted, which, combined, make
him unable to pay the costs. Specifically, he asserts that he has
no savings, no money in checking, no investments, stocks, or
bonds, $15,000 in an IRA, and $3,500 in his wife's IRA.
Additionally, he states that he owes more than $37,000 in
personal loans, more than $37,000 in credit card debt, $12,000 on
a car loan, and will incur substantial medical bills in the
future. Plaintiff estimates that his monthly living expenses are
more than $7,000. Even considering all of these expenses,
Plaintiff is not indigent. Plaintiff's and his wife's combined
monthly take home pay equals approximately $9,000, more than
enough to cover the estimated monthly living expenses. Further,
Plaintiff owns a home valued around $360,000, with nearly
$100,000 in equity. While the Court sympathizes with Plaintiff
regarding his recent tragedies, the Court cannot determine that
Plaintiff is indigent. Accordingly, Defendant is entitled to an
award of recoverable costs.
II. Specific Costs Recoverable Under The Statute
A. Court Reporting and Transcript Fees
Defendant seeks a total of $6,458.09 in court reporting and
transcript fees. Plaintiff argues that Defendant may not recover
costs computed at rates set above those established by the
Judicial Conference of the United States. Plaintiff also asserts
that Defendant is not entitled to delivery charges or costs
associated with their request for a transcript of a pretrial
hearing. Finally, Plaintiff argues that a copy rate of $0.30 a
page is unreasonable.
Local Rule 54.1(b) of the Northern District Court of Illinois
mandates that "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 by order of
court." At the time of Defendant's depositions, the established
Judicial Conference rates for this district were: $3.30 per page
for an original transcript, $4.40 per page for each expedited
copy, $0.83 per page for a copy of a transcript to each party,
and $0.55 per page for each additional copy to the same party.
See General Order, United States District Court, Northern
District of Illinois
Defendant acknowledges that rates for nine out of ten
deposition transcripts exceed the established rate of $3.30 per
page, but argues that it is entitled to costs at the excess rate
because Plaintiff's attorney selected the court reporters for
these depositions. Defendant asserts that it should not be
penalized for being forced to pay an amount over the Judicial
Conference per page rate when it had no control over selecting
the court reporter or negotiating a rate within the established
limit. Defendant urges the Court to use its discretion and allow
it to recover its costs at a rate in excess of the Judicial
Conference's established limit. Local Rule 54.1 states the Court
"shall not exceed" the rate established by the Judicial
Conference of the United States. (emphasis added). The Court,
therefore, will reduce Defendant's costs in accordance with the
Judicial Conference rates. See also Tirapelli v. Advanced
Equities, Inc., 222 F. Supp. 2d 1081, 1084-85 ...