Name of Assigned Judge or Magistrate Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. Sitting Judge if Other than Assigned Judge
Following entry of judgment in its favor on September 21, 2011, Defendant submitted a bill of costs  pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d). The Court took the bill of costs under advisement and gave Plaintiff until October 12, 2011, to object. Plaintiff filed his objections on October 12. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants in part Defendant's request for costs  and awards Defendant $2,769.78 in costs.
O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.
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). Defendants claim $2,869.78 in costs -- $2,254.00 for fees of the court reporter for all or any part of the transcript necessarily obtained for use in the case, $155.00 for fees for service of summons and subpoena, $183.78 for fees for witnesses, and $277.00 for exemplification and copies of papers necessarily obtained for use in the case.
Plaintiff makes a general objection that assessing costs would be "inequitable" in this case. Plaintiff argues that Defendant should be denied its costs because "Plaintiff was forced to work in an environment where it was made clear Defendant was seeking his termination due to his complaints of discrimination." Pl.'s Resp. at 3. The Court specifically rejected this argument in granting summary judgment for Defendants. As stated by the Seventh Circuit in Majeske, "there is a heavy presumption in favor of awarding costs to the prevailing party." 218 F.3d at 824. Here, the Court determined that Defendant was the prevailing party and thus Plaintiff's argument that it would be inequitable to award fees is unpersuasive. The Court now addresses whether the amounts requested are reasonable and supported by the record.
A. Court Reporting and Transcription Fees -- 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2)
First, Defendant seeks $2,254.00 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). The Court has reviewed the supporting materials (including invoices) attached to Defendant's bill of costs and finds that the amounts requested are reasonable. Furthermore, the Court notes that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that these particular costs sought by Defendant are unreasonable or inequitable under the circumstances. Therefore, the Court awards Defendant $2,254.00 in court reporting fees.
B. Service of Summons -- 28 U.S.C. § 1920(1)
Fees for service of process are recoverable under 28 U.S.C. § 1920(1), but may not exceed the U.S. Marshals rate at the time that process was served. Collins v. Gorman, 96 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 1996). The applicable rate is $55 per hour and $.0365 per mile. See 28 C.F.R. § 0.114(a)(3) ("For process served or executed personally-$55 per hour (or portion thereof) for each item served by one U.S. Marshals Service employee, agent, or contractor, plus travel costs and any other out-of-pocket expenses.").
Here, Defendant seeks to recover $155.00 in service fees for serving Sam Richardson. The Court has reviewed the supporting materials (including invoices) attached to Defendant's bill of costs as well as Plaintiff's objections. Defendant used a private process server. Looking at Defendant's invoice, the court cannot "determine whether the rates they [the private process server] charged exceeded the maximum allowable rate." See, e.g., Shanklin Corp. v. American Packaging Machinery, Inc., 2006 WL 2054382, at *4 (N.D. Ill. July 18, 2006) ("[F]or the outside photocopying charges lacking documentation, since the Court cannot determine if the copies were charged at a reasonable rate, no costs will be awarded."). Thus, the Court reduces the service costs to $55.00, rather than the $155.00 claimed.
Defendant also claims $183.78 for "witness fees." Defendant has provided documentation supporting this request, including setting forth the attendance fee ($40.00 per individual with a total of three individuals) and the mileage totals ($13.54, $26.63, and $23.61). The ...