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Jobe v. Rager

May 12, 2006

PHILLIP C. JOBE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD E. RAGER, AND THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge

ORDER

This matter is now before the Court on Defendants Bill of Costs. Plaintiff, Phillip Jobe ("Jobe"), has filed his objections to the Bill of Costs. Defendants have made no response to Jobe's objections, and this Order follows.

DISCUSSION

Having won summary judgment in their favor, Defendants have submitted a Bill of Costs pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), seeking to recover $10,424.71. "[C]osts . . . shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1). The costs that may be recovered pursuant to Rule 54(d)(1) are specified in 28 U.S.C. § 1920. See Crawford v. Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 441 (1987). They include: (1) fees of the clerk and marshal; (2) fees of the court reporter; (3) fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses; (4) fees for exemplification and copies of "papers necessarily obtained for use in the case"; (5) docket fees; and (6) compensation of court appointed experts and interpreters. 28 U.S.C. § 1920.

Rule 54(d) creates a strong presumption favoring the award of costs to the prevailing party. See Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indus. Co., Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 945 (7th Cir. 1997).

"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." Id. (citation omitted). The losing party must affirmatively demonstrate the prevailing party is not entitled to costs. See M.T. Bonk Co. v. Milton Bradley Co., 945 F.2d 1404, 1409 (7th Cir. 1991). Here, Jobe does not object to the award of costs, but challenges several specific items as unreasonable or unrecoverable.

1. Fees for Service of Subpoenas

Defendants seek $252.00 for service of subpoenas. Jobe objects that this amount should be disallowed because Defendants have provided inadequate information in support of this request. The Court agrees. Although Defendants filing includes copies of a check for $112.00 and $140.00 paid for this purpose, the record is devoid of any information establishing the name of the person served, the time spent, the rate charged, or the mileage incurred, and Defendants have made no effort to supplement their filing to provide such information. Accordingly, the Court has no basis to evaluate the request or determine whether the fees incurred are in conformity with the rates that the United States Marshal Service would have charged. The requests for costs for fees for service is therefore denied.

2. Fees of the Court Reporter

Defendants seek $6,165.35 as fees of the court reporter. In Cengr v. Fusibond Piping Systems, Inc., 135 F.3d 445, 455 (7th Cir. 1998), the Seventh Circuit stated, in the context of deposition costs, "The proper inquiry is whether the deposition was 'reasonably necessary' to the case at the time it was taken, not whether it was used in a motion or in court." (Citations omitted). Jobe does not challenge that any of the depositions claimed were not reasonably necessary for use in this case. Rather, he challenges some of the page rates charged, as well as other incidental fees associated with the transcripts.

In Cengr, the Seventh Circuit held that page rates for deposition transcripts by private reporters are limited to those set by the U.S. Judicial Conference. 135 F.3d at 455. The current rate set by the Judicial Conference is $3.30 per page, and Defendants are not entitled to recover any costs above this rate. As Jobe's November 9, 2004, deposition was billed at a rate of $3.55 per page, the cost must be reduced by $.25 per page for a total reduction of $54.50 (218 pages x $.25). Jobe's November 30, 2004, deposition was billed at a rate of $3.39 per page, necessitating a reduction by $.09 per page for a total reduction of $22.59 (251 pages x $.09). Jobe's February 21, 2005, deposition was billed at a rate of $3.55 per page and will be reduced by $20.25 (81 pages x $.25). The deposition of Jill Kimm was billed at the rate of $3.40 per page and must therefore be reduced by $7.20 (72 pages at $.10).

With respect to the depositions of Sarah Zallek, Dean Gravelin, Donald Rager, Justi Rao, and Hazel Williamson, the invoices submitted fail to indicate the number of pages billed or whether the cost includes an attendance fee or any other surcharges. Despite Jobe's objections to the inadequacy of the documentation, Defendants have made no effort to provide supplemental documentation detailing these costs. Accordingly, the $435.50, $281.50, $366.00, $360.40, and $126.55 claimed for the depositions of Zallek, Gravelin, Rager, Rao, and Williamson respectively will be disallowed.

The invoice submitted for the deposition of Eugene Woods seeks costs in the amount of $257.05 for a copy of the 97 page deposition. Likewise, a copy of Anthony Graham-White's 78 page deposition is billed at $206.70, a copy of Michael Bailie's 225 page deposition is billed at $607.50, and a copy of the 181 page deposition of Gerald Moss was billed at $488.70. As the Judicial Conference rate for a copy is $.83 per page, the transcript costs must be reduced by $176.54 (97 pages x $1.82), $141.96 (78 pages x $1.82), $420.75 (225 x $1.87), $338.47 (181 pages x $1.87) respectively.

Jobe also objects to certain charges for the copying of exhibits, delivery charges, and administrative fees. As such charges are generally disallowed, the Court declines the following costs: (1) $9.40 in copies for the Graham-White and Woods depositions; (2) $7.80 in copies for the Baillie deposition; (3) $14.20 in copies for the Moss deposition; (4) $10.00 in delivery charges for Jobe's first deposition; (5) $10.00 in delivery charges for Jobe's second deposition; (6) $10.00 in delivery charges for Jobe's third deposition; (7) $4.50 in delivery charges for the Graham-White and Woods depositions; (8) $10.00 in ...


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