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Reid v. Boyd

February 1, 2007

JEFFREY SCOTT REID, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS BOYD, KEVIN MCGINNIS AND BRIAN STEPHENS, DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER AND MEMORANDUM

This order addresses bills of costs filed by both sides under FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 54(d) which authorizes federal district courts to award costs (as well as attorneys' fees in appropriate cases) to prevailing parties in lawsuits. See FED.R.CIV.P.54(d). Plaintiff's claim for attorneys fees (Doc. 67) will be addressed in a subsequent order.

I. Background and Introduction

On September 22, 2005, Plaintiff Jeffrey Reid filed his complaint naming as Defendants Thomas Boyd, Kevin McGinnis, Brian Stephens, Bruce Fleshren and the City of Mascoutah, Illinois. (Doc. 1).

This case arises under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff contended that Defendant officers used excessive force in arresting him on February 7, 2005. He alleged that his substantive due process rights under Amendments V and XIV of the U.S. Constitution were violated (Counts I and III), that he was unlawfully seized in violation of Amendment IV of the U.S. Constitution (Counts II and IV) and that he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of Amendment VIII of the U.S. Constitution (Counts V and IX). He also stated common law claims for false imprisonment (Count VI), battery (Count VII) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count VIII). Officers Boyd, McGinnis, and Stephens were the actual arresting officers. Reid proposed to hold Police Chief Fleshren and the City of Mascoutah vicariously liable for the alleged actions of the arresting officers (Counts III and IV).

On June 12, 2006, Counts II, IV, V, VI and IX were dismissed with prejudice on Defendants' motion. (Doc. 25). Then, on October 4, 2006, the Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the City of Mascoutah and Chief of Police Bruce Fleshren (Count III). (Doc. 36). Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Counts VII and VIII on October 26, 2006, leaving Count I as the only viable remaining theory. (Doc. 46).

The case proceeded to trial on November 27, 2006, on Plaintiff's sole remaining legal theory - excessive force - against Defendants Boyd, McGinnis and Stephens. Two days later, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff against Thomas Boyd in the sum of $820 while Defendants Kevin McGinnis and Brian Stephens prevailed.

Plaintiff seeks costs totaling $2100.31 (Doc. 68) against Defendant Boyd, to which Defendant objects (Doc. 69). Defendants McGinnis, Stephens, Fleshren and the City of Mascoutah seek costs totaling $1972.87 against Plaintiff (Doc. 66), to which Plaintiff objects (Doc. 72). Plaintiff claims he is a prevailing party under FED.R.CIV.P.54(d) because a jury found in his favor, awarding him $820.00 against Defendant Boyd. Defendants McGinnis, Stephens, Fleshren and the City of Mascoutah claim that they are prevailing parties under FED.R.CIV.P.54(d) because they either succeeded in obtaining summary judgment (see Doc. 36, 10/4/06 Order granting summary judgment to Defendant City of Mascoutah and Chief of Police Bruce Fleshren) or were successful at trial ( see Doc. 60, jury verdict in favor of Defendants Kevin McGinnis and Brian Stephens).

II. Applicable Standards

A prevailing party is a litigant who "wins the battle" on a "substantial part of the litigation." Slane v. Mariah Boats, Inc., 164 F.3d 1065, 1068 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1005 (1999); First Commodities Traders, Inc. v. Heinold Commodities, Inc., 766 F.2d 1007, 1015 (7th Cir. 1985). Defendants prevail by defeating a claim against them. See Perlman v. Zell, 185 F.3d 850, 858-59 (7th Cir. 1999).

In relevant part, FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 54 provides:

(d)(1) Costs Other than Attorneys' Fees. Except when express provision therefor is made either in a statute of the United States or in these rules, 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).

This rule has been interpreted to create a strong presumption that a prevailing party shall recover costs, with broad discretion given to district courts in deciding the extent of such costs. Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Industries Company, Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 944 (7th Cir. 1997). "The presumption in favor of awarding costs to the prevailing party is difficult to overcome, and the district court's discretion is narrowly defined -- the court must award costs unless it states good reasons for denying them." Weeks, 126 F.3d at 945, citing Congregation of the Passion, Holy Cross Province v. Touche, Ross & Co., 854 F.2d 219, 222 (7th Cir. 1988). "Generally, only misconduct by the prevailing party worthy of penalty or the losing party's inability to pay will suffice to justify denying costs. Weeks, 126 F.3d at 945, citing id.The district court may exercise its discretion ...


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