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Carlson v. Bukovic

August 7, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nan R. Nolan United States Magistrate Judge

Judge Nan R. Nolan


Plaintiff June O. Carlson filed suit against Officer Scott Bukovic and the City of Darien, Illinois, alleging unreasonable seizure in the nature of an assault and battery, and failure to train resulting in unreasonable seizure, all in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff and her son, Paul Carlson, also filed suit against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Wal-Mart Associates, Inc., Wal-Mart Stores East, Inc., and Wal-Mart Realty Company (collectively, "Wal-Mart"), but the court dismissed all of those claims on June 19 and October 1, 2007. (Minute Order of 6/19/07, Doc. 35; Minute Order of 10/1/07, Doc. 44.)

On June 9, 2008, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the City of Darien, but denied cross-motions for summary judgment as to Officer Bukovic and Ms. Carlson. Carlson v. Bukovic, No. 07 C 06, 2008 WL 2397682 (N.D. Ill. June 9, 2008). Following a four-day trial between June 15 and 18, 2009, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Officer Bukovic and against Ms. Carlson on all remaining claims. (Minute Order of 6/18/09, Doc. 168; Judgment of 6/18/09, Doc. 169.) Defendants have now moved for costs pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 54(d)(1) and 28 U.S.C. § 1920. For the reasons set forth here, the motion is granted and Defendants are awarded $12,908.39 in costs.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) provides that, except when express provision is made in a statute or federal rule of civil procedure, a prevailing party shall be allowed to recover costs, other than attorneys' fees, as a matter of course "unless the court otherwise directs." Rule 54(d) creates a "strong presumption" that the prevailing party will recover costs, and that presumption is difficult to overcome. U.S. Neurosurgical, Inc. v. City of Chicago, __ F.3d __, 2009 WL 1956330, at *7 (7th Cir. 2009); Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indus. Co., 126 F.3d 926, 945 (7th Cir. 1997); Triune Star, Inc. v. Walt Disney Co., No. 07-1256, 2009 WL 1098762, at *1 (C.D. Ill. Apr. 23, 2009). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1920, a prevailing party may recover (1) fees of the clerk and marshal, (2) fees for transcripts, (3) fees for printing and witnesses, (4) fees for copies necessarily obtained for use in the case, (5) docket fees, and (6) compensation of court appointed experts and interpreters. In assessing a bill of costs, the court must determine whether the costs are allowable and, if so, whether they are both reasonable and necessary. Republic Tobacco Co. v. North Atlantic Trading Co., 481 F.3d 442, 447 (7th Cir. 2007); O'Neal v. City of Chicago, No. 97 C 4788, 2009 WL 1259188, at *1 (N.D. Ill. May 6, 2009). See also Barber v. Ruth, 7 F.3d 636, 644 (7th Cir. 1993) ("District courts may not . . . award costs not authorized by statute.") Plaintiff bears the burden of affirmatively showing that Defendants are not entitled to costs in this case. Rivera v. City of Chicago, 469 F.3d 631, 636 (7th Cir. 2006).

There is no dispute here that the court entered judgment in favor of both Defendants, and that they are the "prevailing parties" in this lawsuit. Carlson, 2008 WL 2397682; (Judgment, Doc. 169.) See also Republic Tobacco Co., 481 F.3d at 446 (quoting Moore's Federal Practice § 54.101[3] (3d ed. 2006)) ("Courts and commentators have interpreted 'prevailing party' to mean 'the party in whose favor judgment has been entered.'") Defendants thus seek five categories of allowable costs, totaling $13,143.61: (1) $468 for service of summons and subpoena; (2) $6,758.22 for court reporter and transcript fees; (3) $5,490 for witness fees; (4) $282.39 for copying expenses; and (5) $145 for videographer fees. (Bill of Costs, Ex. 1.) Plaintiff objects that some of these costs are excessive and unnecessary. The court reviews the arguments in turn.

A. Service of Summons and Subpoena

Defendants are requesting $468 in fees for service of summonses and subpoenas to Plaintiff's health care providers. (Bill of Costs, Ex. 1-A.) Plaintiff characterizes these subpoenas as "[p]urely investigative," and argues that they are not taxable as costs under § 1920. (Pl. Resp., at 3.) In support of this position, Plaintiff directs the court to cases stating that a prevailing party cannot recover the cost of depositions that are "taken merely for the convenience of the attorney or [are] purely investigative in nature." NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-America, Inc., 916 F. Supp. 751, 764 (N.D. Ill. 1996). See also Hudson v. Nabisco Brands, Inc., 758 F.2d 1237, 1243 (7th Cir. 1985) (same). The court does not find Plaintiff's argument persuasive in this case.

Plaintiff alleged that she suffered myriad medical problems as a result of her encounter with Officer Bukovic, and she sought and obtained treatment from all of the subpoenaed health care providers. The court finds the subpoenas directly related to Plaintiff's claims and awards Defendants $468 for these expenses. See Jackson v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., No. 07-cv-0450-MJR-CJP, 2008 WL 5244846, at *2 (S.D. Ill. Dec. 16, 2008) (awarding fees related to subpoenaing medical records).

B. Court Reporter and Transcript Fees

Defendants next seek $6,758.22 for copies of transcripts relating to 19 witness depositions and two court proceedings. (Bill of Costs, Ex. 1-B.) Plaintiff claims that this amount should be reduced by $2,038.52.

1. Depositions

Plaintiff first objects that Defendants did not need transcripts for six ...

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