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Fields v. Shelter Mutual Insurance Co.

June 12, 2007

SHEILA FIELDS PLAINTIFF
v.
SHELTER MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garnett Thomas Eisele United States District Judge

AMENDED ORDER ON MOTION FOR COSTS

Presently before the Court is Defendant Shelter Mutual Insurance Company's Motion for Costs. As the prevailing party in this case, Defendant Shelter Mutual Insurance Company ("Shelter") asserts that it is entitled to costs in the amount of $3,670.66.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54, entitled "Costs Other than Attorneys' Fees," provides in pertinent part:

Except when express provision therefor is made either in a statute of the United States or in these rules, costs other than attorneys' fees shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1). 28 U.S.C. § 1920 defines "costs" and sets forth the categories of trial expenses awardable to a prevailing party under Rule 54(d), including:

(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;

(2) Fees of the court reporter for all or any part of the stenographic transcript necessarily obtained for use in the case;

(3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;

(4) Fees for exemplification and copies of papers necessarily obtained for use in the case; 28 U.S.C. § 1920. "While the above-enumerated costs are presumed to be taxable, the Court must exercise discretion in assessing costs, only allowing taxation of costs for materials 'necessarily obtained for use in the case,' 28 U.S.C. § 1920, and in an amount that is reasonable." Berryman v. Hofbauer, 161 F.R.D. 341, 344 (E.D. Mich.1995) (citing Holmes v. Cessna Aircraft Co., 11 F.3d 63, 64 (5th Cir. 1994); U.S. Industries, 854 F.2d at 1245; Griffith v. Mt. Carmel Medical Center, 157 F.R.D. 499, 502 (D. Kan. 1994); Voight, 141 F.R.D. at 101). "In seeking costs under Rule 54(d), the prevailing party has the burden of establishing that the expenses he seeks to have taxed as costs are authorized by applicable federal law, including proof of necessity and reasonableness under 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Id.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) has been interpreted as creating a presumption that costs are to be awarded to the prevailing party. See Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. August, 450 U.S. 346, 352, 101 S.Ct. 1146, 67 L.Ed. 2d 287 (1981); Martin v. Daimler-Chrysler, 251 F.3d 691, 696 (8th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). "Despite this presumption, however, the district court has substantial discretion in awarding costs to a prevailing party." Greaser v. State, Dept. of Corrections, 145 F3d 979, 985 (8th Cir. 1998) (upholding district court's denial of costs to prevailing defendant in discrimination case). Although some circuits are of the view that costs should only be denied to a prevailing party if it is guilty of some misconduct or other action worthy of penalty, it appears that the Eighth Circuit takes a broader view, finding that Rule 54(d)'s grant of discretion alone permits a court to deny costs. Greaser, 145 F.3d at 985.

Also, the Court may consider Plaintiff's limited financial resources. Cross v. General Motors Corp., 721 F.2d 1152, 1157 (8th Cir. 1983). The court in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Crist, 123 F.R.D. 590, 594-95 (W.D. Ark. 1988), stated:

In Bartel, Taxation of Costs and Awards of Expenses (1984), 101 F.R.D. 553, the author at p. 559, cites numerous cases from many jurisdictions for the conclusion that "an award of costs is within the 'sound discretion of the district court.' " The author of that article also sets forth, beginning at p. 561, a wide range of reasons that have been invoked by courts to justify withholding costs from the prevailing party. Among those reasons are "absence of clear victory" and "indigency and good faith." . . .

In Bartel, supra, at p. 561, it is said that: "the most common bases for denying costs to prevailing defendants have been the indigency of the losing plaintiff...." (citing cases). In cases such as Maldonado v. Parasole, 66 F.R.D. 388, 390 (E.D.N.Y.1975), courts have said that: "indigency is a proper ground for denying costs in cases where there is a wide disparity of economic resources between the parties." . . .

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recognized the trial court's right and discretion to deny costs to a prevailing party in the case of Boyd v. Ozark Airlines, Inc., 56 ...


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