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Andersonn v. Godinez

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 7, 2016

OTHA ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
SALVADOR GODINEZ, TERRI ANDERSON, RICHARD HARRINGTON, JEANNETTE COWAN, and SANDRA FUNK, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge

         In November 2013, this civil rights suit was filed by Otha Anderson (Plaintiff), an inmate at Menard Correctional Center, under 42 U.S.C. 1983. On August 4, 2016, the undersigned granted Defendants' summary judgment motion. Judgment was entered in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiff the same day.

         Now before the Court is Defendants' August 8, 2016 bill of costs (Doc. 132), to which Plaintiff objected via “Motion to Dismiss Defendants' Bill of Costs” a week later (Doc. 135), and Defendants replied on August 30, 2016 (Doc. 140). Defendants seek to recover just the $246.90 incurred in deposing Plaintiff in this lawsuit, as reflected on the bill of Midwest Litigation Services (Doc. 132, p. 4).

         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 contra, costs “should be allowed” to the prevailing party. In other words, under Rule 54(d) “prevailing parties presumptively recover their costs.” Loomis v. Exelon, 658 F.3d 667, 674 (7th Cir. 2011). Accord Myrick v. WellPoint, Inc., 764 F.3d 662, 666 (7th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 135 S.Ct. 1508 (2015).

         Rule 54(d)(1) “codifies a venerable presumption that prevailing parties are entitled to costs.” Marx v. General Revenue Corp., __U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 1166, 1172 (2013). Stated another way, Rule 54(d) establishes a strong presumption that the prevailing party will be awarded the costs of litigation identified in 28 U.S.C. 1920. See, e.g., Montanez v. Simon, 755 F.3d 547, 557 (7th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Montanez v. Chicago Police Officers FICO, 135 S.Ct. 459 (2014); Johnson v. Cypress Hill, 641 F.3d 867, 873 (7th Cir. 2011); U.S. Neurosurgical, Inc. v. City of Chicago, 572 F.3d 325, 333 (7th Cir. 2009). And the “process for awarding costs is intended to be summary.” Extra Equipamentos E Exportacao, Ltda. v. Case Corp., 541 F.3d 719, 727 (7th Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 1175 (2009).

         Although in common parlance, the word “costs” often is equated with “expenses, ” the “concept of taxable costs under Rule 54(d) is more limited” -- such costs are modest in scope and “a fraction of the nontaxable expenses borne by litigants.” Taniguchi v. Kan.Pacific Saipan, Ltd., __U.S.__, 132 S.Ct. 1997, 2006 (2012). The items of recoverable costs are limited by statute. In 28 U.S.C. 1920, Congress delineated the specific categories of costs which a district court can award. Those categories include:

(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 obtained for use in the case;
(5) Docket fees under section 1923 of this title; [and]
(6) Compensation of court appointed experts [and] … interpreters….

         Without question, Defendants are the prevailing parties in this case. They seek to recover a proper item of costs. They have provided an affidavit showing that the deposition transcript was necessary to litigate this case. And the cost of the transcript is reasonable (the $2.90 price per page is less than the maximum allowable transcript rate set by the Judicial Conference of the United States).

         As the losing party in the litigation, Plaintiff shoulders the burden of demonstrating that costs sought are not allowable. See Harney v. City of Chicago, 702 F.3d 916, 927 (7th Cir. 2012), citing Beamon v. Marshall & Ilsley Trust Co.,411 F.3d 854, 864 (7th Cir. 2005)(“… the losing party bears the burden of an affirmative showing that taxed costs are not appropriate.”); Johnson v. Target Corp., 487 Fed. App'x 298, cert. denied,133 S.Ct. 1735 (2013) (“A prevailing party … ...


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