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Shatner v. Cowan

December 28, 2009

DARRIN SHATNER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROGER COWAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Introduction and Background

Several matters regarding Bills of Costs and attorneys' fees are pending before the Court: (1) Defendants Clark, Dobbs, Gales and Page's Bill of Costs (Doc. 186); Plaintiff's motion for award of attorneys' fees and costs (Doc. 187) and Plaintiff's Bill of Costs (Doc. 189). All of these matters are fully briefed and the Court rules as follows.

II. Analysis

In a § 1983 action, "the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party ... a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs...." 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b). Meanwhile, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) provides in part:

Unless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs -- other than attorney fees - should be allowed to the prevailing party.

FED.R.CIV.P. 54(d)(1). 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. 1999); First Commodities Traders, Inc. v. Heinold Commodities, Inc., 766 F.2d 1007, 1015 (7th Cir. 1985).

Rule 54(d) 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 Indus. Co., 126 F.3d 926, 945 (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. Id; U.S. Neurosurgical, Inc., v. City of Chicago, 572 F.3d 325, 334 (7th Cir. 2009). The district court may exercise its discretion to deny costs, although it should state its reason for disallowing. Cengr v. Fusibond Piping Systems, Inc., 135 F.3d 445, 453 (7th Cir. 1998); Gardner v. S. Ry. Sys., 675 F.2d 949, 954 (7th Cir. 1982).

Furthermore, costs do not include all litigation expenses. Rather, costs are particular statutorily defined categories of incurred charges worthy of reimbursement. Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 445 (1987); Hairline Creations, Inc. v. Kefalas, 664 F.2d 652, 655 (7th Cir. 1981).

28 U.S.C. § 1920 sets forth the categories of expenses which properly may be taxed, including:

(1) Fees of the Clerk and Marshal;

(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case;

(3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;

(4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily ...


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