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Luster v. Baptist Medical Center

May 16, 2007

EDWARD LUSTER PLAINTIFF
v.
BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wm. R. Wilson, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

Pending is Defendant Baptist Health's*fn1 ("Baptist") Motion for Attorneys Fees and Costs.*fn2 Plaintiff has not responded.

I. Background

Plaintiff brought this discrimination case pro se. He first filed a charge with the EEOC, and then filed a Complaint.*fn3 Shortly after filing his complaint, Plaintiff moved for appointment of counsel.*fn4 The motion was denied.*fn5 However, an attorney entered an appearance on Plaintiff's behalf.*fn6

Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment,*fn7 and it was granted for the following reasons: (1) the actions taken by Defendant did not constitute adverse employment action; (2) there was insufficient evidence to sustain his retaliation claim; and (3) Plaintiff failed to assert his failure to promote claim in his EEOC charge.*fn8

Defendant is asking for attorneys' fees because Plaintiff filed a frivolous claim. Defendant requests $19,358.50 in fees, and $3,717.97 in costs.

II. Authority

A. Attorneys' Fees

A prevailing defendant may recover fees if the plaintiff's suit was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless.*fn9 However, courts must "resist the understandable temptation to engage in post hoc reasoning by concluding that, because a plaintiff did not ultimately prevail, his action must have been unreasonable or without foundation."*fn10

A district court's denial of an award of attorneys' fees is reviewed for an abuse of discretion,*fn11 and such a request is not readily granted.*fn12 This is especially true with respect to discrimination claims. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that "[s]o long as the plaintiff has 'some basis' for the discrimination claim, a prevailing defendant may not recover attorneys' fees."*fn13

B. Costs

Like an award of attorneys' fees, a district court's award of costs is also reviewed for an abuse of discretion.*fn14 According to Rule 54(d)(1) of the Federal Rues of Civil Procedure, costs "shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs."*fn15 Under this rule, a presumption is established that costs are to be awarded to a prevailing party, but the district court has discretion to decide otherwise.*fn16

Although Rule 54(d) allows a party to be reimbursed for its "costs," this term is given a narrower interpretation than its common place meaning suggests.*fn17 Costs are limited to taxable costs listed in 28 U.S.C. ยง 1920, ...


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