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Manley v. Boat/U.S., Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

October 24, 2019

JOHN J. MANLEY D/B/A CHICAGO MARINE TOWING, Plaintiff,
v.
BOAT/U.S., INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendant U.S. Boat's bill of costs [143]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendant's bill of costs [143].

         I. Background

         Plaintiff John Manley sued various entities (“Defendants”) for breach of contract and defamation, among other theories. See generally [1]. Following a bench trial, the Court ruled in favor of Defendants [139], and Defendants voluntarily dismissed a counterclaim [140].

         Defendant U.S. Boat, Inc. (“Defendant”) has filed a bill of costs, seeking $2, 664.14. See generally [143]. As is typical in this litigation, Plaintiff has not responded to the bill. See [139 at 4 n.1]. Defendant has also not included any memoranda or written justification along with its bill, but it has, at least, itemized its costs. [139 at 3-4.]

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) provides, in relevant part: “costs-other than attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing party.” Federal statute dictates which types of costs are allowable under this rule, including: (1) Fees of the clerk and marshal; (2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case; * * * (4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case[] * * *.”

         “[T]he decision whether to award costs ultimately lies within the sound discretion of the district court.” Marx v. General Revenue Corp., 568 U.S. 371, 377 (2013). That said, “Rule 54(d)(1) codifies a venerable presumption that prevailing parties are entitled to costs.” Id.; see also Contreras v. City of Chicago, 119 F.3d 1286, 1295 (7th Cir. 1997) (“Although a district court has discretion when awarding costs, the discretion is narrowly confined because of the strong presumption created by Rule 54(d)(1) that the prevailing party will recover costs.”) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Notwithstanding this strong presumption, the “party seeking an award of costs carries the burden of showing that the requested costs were necessarily incurred and reasonable.” Trustees of Chicago Plastering Inst. Pension Trust v. Cork Plastering Co., 570 F.3d 890, 906 (7th Cir. 2009). That is, “[o]nce the prevailing party demonstrates that the particular items of costs should be allowed, the losing party then bears the burden of affirmatively showing that the taxed costs are not appropriate.” Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Vanguard Products Group, Inc., 873 F.Supp.2d 939, 944 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (citing Beamon v. Marshall & Ilsley Trust Co., 411 F.3d 854, 864 (7th Cir. 2005). Costs incurred for one's own convenience are not necessary and therefore not recoverable. E.g., Boogaard v. National Hockey League, 2017 WL 5517231, *2 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 17, 2017) (citing Majeske v. City of Chicago, 218 F.3d 816, 825 (7th Cir. 2000); Haroco, Inc. v. American Nat. Bank & Trust Co. of Chicago, 38 F.3d 1429, 1441 (7th Cir. 1994)).

         III. Analysis

         Defendants seek four categories of costs-fees of the clerk, fees related to deposing certain witnesses, witness appearance fees, and copying costs. These costs are addressed in turn.

         A. Pro hac vice fee

         Defendant seeks to recover the $50 pro hac vice appearance fee its attorney paid to appear in the Northern District for this litigation. “Fees of the clerk” may generally be taxed. 28 U.S.C. § 1920. The Seventh Circuit has approved of taxing pro hac vice appearance fees as fees of the clerk, but some district courts still refuse to do so. U.S. v. Emergency Medical Associates of Illinois, Inc., 436 F.3d 726, 730 (7th Cir. 2006); Boogaard, 2017 WL 5517231 at *1 (reviewing authorities and concluding that pro hac vice fees may be taxed); but see Oleksy v. General Electric Company, 2016 WL 7217725, *2 (N.D. Ill. December 12, 2016) (noting that most courts in the Seventh Circuit decline to tax pro hac vice appearance fees); see also Kalitta Air L.L.C. v. Central Texas Airborne System Inc., 741 F.3d 955, 958 (9th Cir. 2013) (providing a rationale for declining to follow Emergency Medical Associates). As the Seventh Circuit has approved of the practice and Plaintiff has failed to offer any reason why this appearance fee should not be taxed, the Court concludes that this fee is taxable.

         B. Deposition costs

         Defendant also seeks transcription costs associated with taking four depositions. “Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case” are recoverable. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 54(d)(2). Defendant seeks reimbursement for three 14-day transcripts and one ordinary, 30-day transcript, along with $330 in ...


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