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Vincent E. Blackwell and Angela Ford v. andrew P. Kalinowski

August 11, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mag. Judge Michael T. Mason


Michael T. Mason, United States Magistrate Judge: Before the Court is plaintiff Vincent Blackwell's ("Blackwell") bill of costs. This case involves claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution brought by plaintiff Blackwell and a claim for unlawful search of a vehicle brought by plaintiff Angela Ford ("Ford"). The case was tried before a jury between May 2, 2011 and May 5, 2011. The jury found in favor of Blackwell on both of his claims and against Ford on her unlawful search claim. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff Blackwell's bill of costs [114] is granted in part and denied in part.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) sets forth the general rule that costs, other than attorneys' fees, "shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party," except as otherwise provided by statute or in the rules. Ochana v. Flores, 206 F. Supp. 2d 941, 944 (N.D. Ill. 2002) (quoting Payne v. Milwaukee County, 288 F.3d 1021, 1027 (7th Cir. 2002)). The proper measure of those costs is set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Tideman v. Nadler Golf Car Sales, Inc., 224 F.3d 719, 726 (7th Cir. 2000). The costs explicitly allowed by § 1920 are: (1) fees of the clerk and marshal; (2) fees for transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case; (3) fees for printing and witnesses; (4) fees for copies of materials necessarily obtained for use in the case; (5) docket fees; and (6) compensation of court appointed experts and interpreters. 28 U.S.C. § 1920.

Under Rule 54(d), there is a "strong presumption that costs will be awarded to the prevailing party." U.S. Neurosurgical, Inc. v. City of Chicago, 572 F.3d 325, 333 (7th Cir. 2009). "However, district courts possess wide discretion in determining whether expenses claimed by the prevailing party are actually taxable as costs." Rogers v. City of Chicago, 2002 WL 423723, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 15, 2002) (citing Deimer v. Cincinnati Sub-Zero Products, Inc., 58 F.3d 341, 345 (7th Cir. 1994)). Additionally, "the losing party bears the burden of an affirmative showing that taxed costs are not appropriate." Beamon v. Marshall & Ilsley Trust Co., 411 F.3d 854, 864 (7th Cir. 2005).

Here, plaintiff seeks recovery for the following: (1) $350.00 for fees of the clerk; (2) $55.00 for fees for service of the summons; (3) $2,397.75 for transcripts; (4) $45.00 for witness fees; (5) $647.40 for photocopying fees; and (6) $38.45 for other itemized costs (including costs associated with obtaining the court file in Blackwell's underlying criminal case, his Illinois Secretary of State driving record, and a cellular telephone bill). In response, defendants object to certain photocopying costs as well as the costs for obtaining Blackwell's criminal court file. However, even as to the unchallenged costs, we must ensure that each proposed cost is allowed under § 1920, is reasonable, and is necessary to the litigation. Little v. Mitsubishi Motors N. Am., Inc., 514 F.3d 699, 702 (7th Cir. 2008); Rogers, 2002 WL 423723, at *1 (stating that "items proposed by winning parties as costs should always be given careful scrutiny.") (citation omitted).

1. Clerk Fees

Section 1920(1) authorizes a court to tax the filing fee paid to the Clerk of Court. Consequently, plaintiff may recover from defendants the $350.00 he paid to initiate this action. 28 U.S.C. § 1920(1); Koneff v. Nyang'iti, 2009 WL 5215595, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 29, 2009).

2. Summons Service Fees

Recovery of summons and subpoena service fees is also authorized under § 1920(1). See Collins v. Gorman, 96 F.3d 1057, 1059 (7th Cir. 1996). Accordingly, plaintiff may recover the $55.00 he paid for service of the summons.

3. Transcript Fees

Pursuant to § 1920(2), fees for "printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case" are recoverable by the prevailing party. Under Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 54.1(b), the cost of a transcript shall not exceed the regular copy rate established by the Judicial Conference of the United States. N.D.

Ill. L.R. 54.1(b). The applicable rates pursuant to the Judicial Conference for transcripts requested on or after November 1, 2007 are as follows: $3.65 per page for the original of an ordinary transcript, $4.25 per page for the original of a fourteen day transcript, $4.85 for the original of an expedited (seven day) transcript, and $0.90 per page rate for a copy to each party.*fn1

A court awards deposition transcript charges if the taking of the deposition appears reasonably necessary in light of the facts known at the time of the deposition. Mother & Father v. Cassidy, 338 F.3d 704, 712 (7th Cir. 2003). The determination of necessity must be made "without regard to intervening developments that render the deposition unneeded for further use." Id. Reasonable court reporter attendance fees also are recoverable under § 1920(2). Held v. Held, 137 F.3d 998, 1002 (7th Cir.1998) (stating 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. ยง 1920(2)."). However, the court reporter's attendance fee may be taxed as costs only to the extent that the fee, when added to the per page rate charged for the ...

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