United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Fernando Gomez, an inmate in the Illinois Department of
Corrections, filed this lawsuit in March 2016 pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging Defendants violated his
constitutional rights (Doc. 1). His claims were tried to a
jury in August 2019, and the jury found in favor of
Defendants. Judgment was entered on August 22, 2019 (Doc.
pending before the Court is the Bill of Costs filed by
Defendants on September 23, 2019 (Doc. 125). Defendants seek
to recover $1, 482.10 for transcripts they obtained for use
in the case. Objections to the Bill of Costs were due October
8, 2019 (Doc. 126). On October 9, 2019, no objection having
been filed, the Clerk of Court taxed costs in the amount of
$1, 482.10 against Gomez (Doc. 127).
October 15, 2019, the Court received an objection from Gomez
to the Bill of Costs (Doc. 128). Other than a postmark of
October 10, 2019, the document is not dated. Within his
objection, Gomez states that he “is barely objecting to
the following because the first week of Oct. the law library
was closed so I was unable to make copies for
exhibits.” He then states that he was permitted to
proceed in forma pauperis in this case and appears
to ask that he be allowed to continue that status. Otherwise,
he asks the Court to allow him to make $5 to $10 per month
payments given his release date of August 11, 2042.
initial matter, although Gomez's objection was filed
late, the Court finds the delay was due to excusable neglect.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b). Gomez explained in the
first paragraph of his objection that the law library was
closed the first week of October, so he was unable to make
copies of his exhibit. While not styled as a motion to file
his objection out of time, the Court construes it as such.
See Id. Furthermore, although Gomez's objection
is not dated, given the postmark date of October 10, 2019,
there is a strong likelihood that Gomez placed it in the
prison mail system on October 8, 2019. See Rutledge v.
U.S., 230 F.3d 1041, 1052 (7th Cir. 2000) (holding that
pleadings by pro se prisoners are dependent on the prison
mail system to reach their destination, and therefore will be
considered timely filed when a prisoner places them in that
system). Therefore, the Court considers his objection timely
to Defendants' request for costs, Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 54(d)(1) provides that “costs-other than
attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing
party” unless a federal statute, the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, or a court order provides otherwise.
“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).
denial of costs may be warranted if the losing party is
indigent and has no ability to pay. Id.; see
also Mother and Father v. Cassidy, 338 F.3d 704, 708
(7th Cir. 2003). To deny a bill of costs on the grounds of
indigence, “the district court must make a threshold
factual finding that the losing party is ‘incapable of
paying the court imposed costs at this time or in the
future.'” Id. at 635 (quoting McGill
v. Faulkner, 18 F.3d 456, 459 (7th Cir. 1994)).
“The burden is on the losing party to provide the
district court with sufficient documentation to support such
a finding.” Id. (internal quotations omitted).
Next, the district court “should consider the amount of
costs, the good faith of the losing party, and the closeness
and difficulty of the issues raised by a case when using its
discretion to deny costs.” Id.
Gomez was granted pauper status when this action
commenced, and he has been continuously incarcerated
throughout the course of this litigation. Accordingly, the
Court finds that Gomez is incapable of paying Defendants'
costs at this time. Furthermore, given his expected release
date of August 11, 2042,  the Court finds that Gomez is incapable
of paying the costs in the future.
to the amount of the costs, Defendants seek a total of $1,
482.10. That sum, while not astronomical given that this case
culminated in a three-day trial, is substantial to a prisoner
proceeding in forma pauperis. Gomez filed this case
in good faith, and, while the jury found in favor of
Defendants, his claims were not frivolous.
these reasons, the Court finds that Defendants' Bill of
Costs should be denied on the grounds of indigence. Plaintiff
Fernando Gomez's objection (Doc. 128) is
SUSTAINED. Defendants' Bill of Costs
(Doc. 125) is DENIED. The Court's
previous Order taxing costs against Plaintiff (Doc. 127)
shall be STRICKEN.
IS SO ORDERED.
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