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Coleman v. Hwashin America Corp.

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

March 21, 2019

VICKIE COLEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
HWASHIN AMERICA CORPORATION, Defendant.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          WALLACE CAPEL, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is Defendant's Motion to Tax Costs (Doc. 78). The District Judge has referred the motion to the undersigned Magistrate Judge “for the entry of any orders as may be appropriate.” Doc. 79. On February 22, 2019, the undersigned entered an Order (Doc. 80) directing Plaintiff to respond to the motion on or before March 6, 2019. On February 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed her “Objection and Motion for Reconsideration to Order Number 79-1 and Strike of Defendant's Motion to tax Cost Based on Record Evidence Rule” (Doc. 81). Thereafter, on February 28, 2019, the District Judge entered an Order (Doc. 83) overruling Plaintiff's objection to the referral of the motion to the undersigned and advising that the undersigned would “address Plaintiff's arguments about Defendant's motion.” As such, the matter is ripe for recommendation to the District Judge.

         Rule 54(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, “[u]nless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs-other than attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing party.” This provision creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs to a prevailing party. See Manor Healthcare Corp. Lomelo, 929 F.2d 633, 639 (11th Cir. 1991). If a party challenges taxation of costs, the burden lies with the challenging party to show the costs are not authorized and should not be taxed against the losing party. EEOC v. W & O, Inc., 213 F.3d 600, 620 (11th Cir. 2000).

         Twenty-eight U.S.C. § 1920 enumerates what costs may be taxed in favor of a prevailing party. The statute provides as follows:

A judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax as costs the following:
(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 . . . [;]
(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services[.]

         Accordingly, the undersigned's obligation is to determine, first, whether Defendant is a prevailing party who is entitled to the recovery of costs and, if so, second, whether the costs Defendant seeks to have taxed against Plaintiff are authorized pursuant to the statute.

         On January 28, 2019, the District Judge entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order (Doc. 73) overruling Plaintiff's objections to the undersigned's Recommendation (Doc. 71) that Defendant's motion for summary judgment be granted and that judgment be entered in favor of Defendant. Consistent with his opinion, the District Judge entered a Final Judgment (Doc. 74) in favor of Defendant, thereby rendering Defendant the prevailing party in this litigation. According to its Bill of Costs, Defendant seeks recovery of $496.50 in costs. See Doc. 78-1. This amount includes $466.50 “for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case” and $30.00 for “printing.” By affidavit of its attorney, Ronald Flowers, Defendant asserts that these costs were necessarily incurred in defending against Plaintiff's claims against it, and that Defendant utilized the materials reflected on the Bill of Costs in support of its successful motion for summary judgment. Affidavit of Ronald Flowers, Doc. 78-1 at 4, ¶ 4. Defendant's Itemization of Costs indicates that the “transcripts” obtained by Defendant were in fact transcripts of the deposition of Plaintiff taken on April 18, 2018, and May 7, 2018. Doc. 78-1 at 6. Defendant has also provided corresponding invoices showing that commensurate amounts were charged to Defendant's law firm by the court reporter. Doc. 78-1 at 7-8. Finally, Defendant has provided an invoice showing 150 pages of printing at twenty cents per page. Defendant's costs are plainly authorized for taxation by the statute. See § 1920(2) & (3).

         There can be no doubt that Defendant's procurement of Plaintiff's deposition was integral in defending against Plaintiff's allegations, and that the cost of producing transcripts of the deposition were necessarily incurred in Defendant's successful effort to obtain summary judgment. Indeed, Defendant cited and relied upon Plaintiff's deposition extensively throughout its brief in support of its motion for summary judgment. See generally Doc. 57. Likewise, both the undersigned, in the Recommendation (Doc. 71) that Defendant's motion be granted, and the District Judge, in his Order (Doc. 73) adopting that Recommendation, relied upon Plaintiff's deposition in both finding undisputed facts ...


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