Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Srail v. Village of Lisle

December 15, 2008

SUSAN SRAIL, JEFFREY SRAIL, JANEEN BRZECZEK, AND RONALD BRZECZEK, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED, AND IN THE CAPACITY AS PARENTS AND NEXT FRIENDS OF THEIR MINOR CHILDREN, RYAN SRAIL, DEREK SRAIL, AND HANNAH BRZECZEK, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
VILLAGE OF LISLE, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Susan Srail, Jeffrey Srail, Janeen Brzeczek, and Ronald Brzeczek sued the Village of Lisle on behalf of themselves and a class of residents in Lisle's Oak View subdivision, alleging that Lisle violated their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and Illinois common law in making decisions concerning the water system that supplies Oak View. On August 7, 2008, the Court granted Lisle's motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs' equal protection claims and dismissed their state law claims for lack of supplemental jurisdiction. Lisle has petitioned the Court for an award of costs totaling $24,075.38 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Court grants Lisle's motion, but limits the award to $19,621.68.

Background

The facts underlying the majority of plaintiffs' claims are set forth in this Court's opinion dated August 7, 2008. Srail v. Village of Lisle, No. 07 C 2617, 2008 WL 4876865 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 7, 2008). The Court need not discuss those facts but will recount the procedural history of the case to the extent it is relevant to Lisle's request for an award of costs.

Plaintiffs sued Lisle on May 5, 2007, alleging that the water system serving them, operated by Illinois-American Water Company ("IAWC") under a contract with Lisle, did not deliver adequate water pressure or volume to fight fires in their subdivision, thereby endangering plaintiffs and the class. Plaintiffs initially sued IAWC as well, but they voluntary dismissed that claim with prejudice. Lisle then asserted third-party claims against IAWC, seeking indemnification and contribution.

On July 12, 2007, the Court granted plaintiffs' motion for expedited discovery on preliminary injunction issues and set an expedited hearing on their preliminary injunction motion. Plaintiffs withdrew their motion for a preliminary injunction on the date the hearing was to take place.

On September 18, 2007, the Court denied Lisle's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint. Several months later, on May 30, 2008, the Court certified a class consisting of all individuals who own or reside in residential property in the Oak View subdivision of Lisle. On August 7, 2008, the Court granted Lisle's motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs' equal protection claims and dismissed plaintiffs' state law claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Discussion

Rule 54(d)(1) provides that "costsother than attorney's fees shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs." Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1). The rule creates a "presumption that the losing party will pay costs but grants the court discretion to direct otherwise." Rivera v. City of Chicago, 469 F.3d 631, 634 (7th Cir. 2006). The burden is on the losing party to overcome that presumption. Id. At 636. Although Rule 54(d)(1) allows a court to exercise discretion in awarding costs, "the discretion is narrowly confined because of the strong presumption created by Rule 54(d)(1) that the prevailing party will recover costs." Contreras v. City of Chicago, 119 F.3d 1286, 1295 (7th Cir. 1997).

A. Lisle's Entitlement to Costs

Plaintiffs contend that they should not be taxed any costs incurred by Lisle because their case involved issues of substantial public importance, resulting in a substantial benefit to the public. Although the Seventh Circuit has not foreclosed the possibility that Rule 54(d) permits a denial of costs in "landmark cases of national importance," plaintiffs' case, though an important one for plaintiffs and the other Oak View residents, falls short of that standard. Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. Colbert, 692 F.2d 489, 490 (7th Cir. 1982). See also, Burroughs v. Hills, 741 F.2d 1525, 1533 (7th Cir. 1982) (fact that case may have presented "novel questions of public interest and importance" was insufficient to overcome taxation of costs, which is the "normal consequence of losing"). That aside, the Seventh Circuit has expressly "recognized only two situations in which the denial of costs might be warranted: the first involves misconduct of the party seeking costs, and the second involves a pragmatic exercise of discretion to deny or reduce a costs order if the losing party is indigent." Mother & Father v. Cassidy, 338 F.3d 704, 708 (7th Cir. 2003).

Plaintiffs also contend that they should not be taxed costs because the factual issues in the case were "close and difficult." Resp. at 4. As evidence of the difficulty, plaintiffs cite their success in obtaining class certification and surviving Lisle's motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs' argument fails, for two reasons. First, success on a motion to dismiss is not related to the closeness of the factual issues. Lisle's motion to dismiss was based on Rule 12(b)(6). A court may not take factual disputes into account in ruling on such a motion. See Cler v. Ill. Educ. Ass'n, 423 F.3d 726, 729 (7th Cir. 2005). Second, the Seventh Circuit has made clear that the fact "[t]hat plaintiff[s'] case was reasonable or even close is plainly not enough in itself" to avoid a taxation of costs. Delta Air Lines, 592 F.2d at 490.

Finally, plaintiffs contend that they should be relieved from paying costs because they "have limited financial resources." Resp. at 5. The Seventh Circuit has recognized the indigence of the losing party as a valid reason for denying costs to the prevailing party. Mother & Father, 338 F.3d at 708. The standard the Seventh Circuit has established is, however, rather difficult to meet. Specifically, the Court must find that "the losing party is incapable of paying the court-imposed costs at this time or in the future." Rivera, 469 F.3d at 635 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The losing party must provide the Court with "sufficient documentation to support such a finding" in the form of affidavits, documentary evidence of both income and assets, and "a schedule of expenses." Id. Plaintiffs have provided the court with two affidavits, one from each plaintiff family, stating only their annual income and a few general expenses. This falls well short of the documentary evidence required by the Seventh Circuit to support a finding that plaintiffs are in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.