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Stallings v. City of Johnston City

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 24, 2016

JAYNE STALLINGS, Plaintiff(s),
v.
CITY OF JOHNSTON CITY, municipal corporation, and JIM MITCHELL, in his individual and official capacity, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          David R. Herndon Judge.

         I. Introduction and Background

         Following entry of judgment for Defendants City of Johnston City and Jim Mitchell, they filed their Bill of Costs (Doc. 130). Specifically, defendants ask for $16, 189.02 in costs which include: (1) $482.60 for service of summons and subpoena; (2) $13, 359.30 for transcripts; (3) $1505.52 for witness fees; and (4) $841.60 for exemplification and copies of materials necessarily obtained for use in the case. Plaintiff filed timely objections to the bill of costs (Doc. 133).

         In her objection (Doc. 133), plaintiff first asserts that she should be excused from paying certain costs because they were unnecessary and excessive, including daily transcript fees and the video clips used at trial. Plaintiff also argues that costs sought for copies are not properly documented and should be denied. Finally, plaintiff argues certain witness fees, service costs and travel expenses were unnecessary and should be denied[1]. The plaintiff's specific objections shall be addressed below. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part defendants' Bill of Costs (Doc. 130). Plaintiff Jayne Stallings is ORDERED to pay defendants' costs in the amount of $8, 888.84.

         II. Law

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) entitles prevailing parties to recover their costs, other than attorneys' fees. Richardson v. City of Chicago, 740 F.3d 1099, 1102 (7th Cir. 2014). Rule 54(d) provides that unless a federal statute, rule, or court order says otherwise, costs “should be allowed” to the prevailing party. In other words, Rule 54(d)(1) “codifies a venerable presumption that prevailing parties are entitled to costs.” Marx v. Gen. Revenue Corp., 133 S.Ct. 1166, 1172, 185 L.Ed.2d 242 (2013); See also Loomis v. Exelon, 658 F.3d 667, 674 (7th Cir. 2011).

         Notwithstanding the presumption for a cost award, “the word “should” [in 28 U.S.C. § 1920] makes clear that the decision whether to award costs ultimately lies within the sound discretion of the district court.” Marx v. Gen. Revenue Corp., 133 S.Ct. 1166, 1172, 185 L.Ed.2d 242 (2013). In order to overcome the presumption in favor of the award of costs, “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) (citing M.T. Bonk Co. v. Milton Bradley Co., 945 F.2d 1404, 1409 (7th Cir. 1991)).

         The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that the Rule 54(d) presumption applies to those costs of litigation identified in 28 U.S.C. § 1920. See Montanez v. Simon, 755 F.3d 547, 557 (7th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Montanez v. Chicago Police Officers FICO, 135 S.Ct. 459, 190 L.Ed.2d 332 (2014); U.S. Neurosurgical, Inc. v. City of Chicago, 572 F.3d 325, 333 (7th Cir.2009). The following costs are allowed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1920: (1) fees of the clerk and marshal; (2) fees for transcripts, (3) witness and printing fees and expenses, (4) fees for copies or papers necessarily obtained for use in the case, (5) docket fees, and (6) compensation for court-appointed experts and interpreters. 28 U.S.C. § 1920.

         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); Extra Equipamentos E Exportacao Ltda. v. Case Corp., 541 F.3d 719, 727 (7th Cir. 2008) (the process for awarding costs is intended to be summary, not an inquest on the winning party's litigation strategy). With these principles in mind, the Court shall discuss each of the challenged costs in turn.

         III. Analysis

         As mentioned above, defendants filed a Bill of Costs after judgment was granted in their favor on June 30, 2016 (Doc. 130). Plaintiff filed a response contesting the Bill of Costs on July 14, 2016 (Doc. 130). In her response, plaintiff argues that defendants should not be awarded certain costs in this case because the defendants have not shown that certain costs were actually and necessarily incurred during this litigation. The Court has thoroughly reviewed defendants' Bill of Costs (Doc. 130) and plaintiff's objections thereto (Doc. 132), along with defendants' reply (Doc. 133) and, pursuant to the foregoing principles, rules as follows:

         1. $482.60 for Service of Subpoenas

         Defendants request $482.60 in costs incurred in the service of seven subpoenas upon trial witnesses (James Pulliam, Jeannie Viecely, Mike Stallings, Steven C. Shafer, Michael Riva, Austin Stallings, and Dr. Jeffrey Parks) at either $45.00 or $55.00 per subpoena ($364.00) plus a mileage charge associated with the service of the subpoenas.

         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 process was served. Collins v. Gorman, 96 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir.1996). As of 2016, the U.S. Marshals Service charge is $65.00 per hour, plus 0.54 per mile. 28 C.F.R. ยง 0.114. To award costs for the service of subpoenas, the court need only ...


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