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Gumm v. Village of Park Forest

May 2, 2011


Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Robert Dow, Jr. than Assigned Judge



For the reasons stated below, the Court awards Defendants $3,441.58 in costs. Plaintiff's motion in opposition to the bill of costs [48] is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiffs' supplemental motion in opposition [50] is denied.

O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.


Following entry of judgment in their favor, Defendants submitted a "motion" for a bill of costs along with the documentation is support of the requested costs [39]. Judge Coar (to whom this case was previously assigned) terminated Defendants' "motion" but noted that a bill of costs had been filed [41]. Following that court action, Defendants re-filed their bill of costs [46] on the form that parties customarily use in this Court. Defendants seek a total of $3,681.65, which represents deposition transcript fees ($2,639.35), attendance fees ($210), witness fees ($92), and exemplification and copying ($441.30). Plaintiff filed an opposition to the bill of costs [48] and soon after, a motion to supplement its opposition [50].

I. Legal Standards

Rule 54(d)(1) provides that "costs -- other than attorney's fees -- should be allowed to the prevailing party." Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1). The rule "provides 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). However, the Seventh Circuit recognizes "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); see also Rivera, 469 F.3d at 634-35. Taxing costs against the non-prevailing party requires two inquiries: (1) whether the cost is recoverable; and (2) whether the amount assessed is reasonable. See Majeske v. City of Chicago, 218 F.3d 816, 824 (7th Cir. 2000). The list of recoverable costs pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1920 includes (1) fees of the clerk and marshal, (2) fees for transcripts, (3) witness fees and expenses, (4) fees for copies of papers necessarily obtained for use in the case, (5) docket fees, and (6) compensation for court-appointed experts and interpreters. See Republic Tobacco Co. v. N. Atl. Trading Co., Inc., 481 F.3d 442, 447 (7th Cir. 2007).

II. Analysis

A. Court Reporting and Transcription Fees -- 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2) First, Defendants seek $2,639.35 in court reporting fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2).

The Court awards deposition charges if the deposition appears reasonably necessary in light of the facts known at the time of the deposition. See Little v. Mitsubishi Motors N. Am., Inc., 514 F.3d 699, 702 (7th Cir. 2008) (per curiam); Mother & Father, 338 F.3d at 708. Under Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 54.1(b), the costs of a transcript shall not exceed the regular copy rate established by the Judicial Conference of the United States. See N.D. Ill. L.R. 54.1(b).

For depositions and trials conducted after November 1, 2007, the applicable Judicial Conference rates are $3.65 per page for ordinary transcripts, $4.25 per page for fourteen day transcripts, $4.85 per page for seven day transcripts, $6.05 per page for daily transcripts, and $7.25 per page for hourly transcripts. See Reasonable attendance fees also are recoverable under Section 1920(2). See, e.g., Held v. Held, 137 F.3d 998, 1002 (7th Cir. 1998) ("As for the deposition attendance fees charged by the court reporter, we have previously held that even though these fees are not specifically mentioned in the statute, the district court may award them in its discretion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2)"); Finchum v. Ford Motor Co., 57 F.3d 526, 534 (7th Cir. 1995) (same).

Defendants seek court reporting and attendance fees associated with the depositions of the Plaintiff Robert Gumm ($579.80), his wife Jennifer Tario ($428.85), Defendant Clifford Butz ($627.50), Defendant Michael McNamara ($499.50), and Craig Kaufman ($713.70). Plaintiff does not contend that any of the depositions were unnecessary. Rather, Plaintiff contends that the Kaufman, Butz, and McNamara depositions were billed at $4.00 per page, which is above the applicable Judicial Conference Rate of $3.65 for ordinary transcripts. (The invoices for the depositions do not state that they are accelerated delivery transcripts; rather the invoices are each marked "ORIG TRANSCRIPT" or "original transcript."). These invoices do not indicate the per-page amount charged by the court reporter. However, Plaintiff asserts that the court reporter charged $4.00 a page and Defendants do not rebut this assertion. It therefore appears that the recoverable amounts for the Kaufman, Butz, and McNamara deposition transcripts should be reduced to $3.65 per page. In accordance with Plaintiff's calculations, the Court awards $651.25 for the Kaufman transcript, $572.59 for the Butz transcript, and $455.79 for the McNamara transcript.

Next, Plaintiff asserts that the attendance fees requested by Defendants for the Gumm and Tario depositions should be reduced. Defendants claim $105 for each deposition. Plaintiff cites Cordero v. City of Chicago, 2010 WL 3515751, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 30, 2010) for the proposition that a $60 attendance fee is reasonable. Plaintiff omits to mention that in Cordero, Judge Leinenweber was determining that a $60.00 hourly fee was reasonable, not a $60.00 total fee. Accord Benuzzi v. Board of City of Chicago, 2010 WL 3038101, at *1 (N.D. Ill. July 30, 2010) ("The court reporter attendance fee of $55 per hour is also reasonable."); Buffone v. Rosebud Rest., Inc., 2006 WL 3196931, at *2 (N.D.Ill. Oct. 31, 2006) (same). Based on the cost of the Gumm and Tario depositions, the Court was able ...

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