Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lochridge v. Lindsey Management Co. Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

November 15, 2016

CHAD LOCHRIDGE; EVERETTE LOCHRIDGE; TWYLA LOCHRIDGE; PATRICIA LEACH; CARLIS SMITH; LYDIA SMITH; and REBECCA SMITH PLAINTIFFS
v.
LINDSEY MANAGEMENT CO., INC. DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY L. BROOKS JUDGE.

         Currently before the Court are two separate Bills of Costs (Docs. 359 and 375). The first Bill of Costs (Doc. 359) was filed in this Court[1] by Defendant Lindsey Management Co., Inc. (“Lindsey”) after it prevailed in a jury trial of Plaintiffs' individual claims, made pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). In this Bill of Costs, Lindsey requested $22, 687.51, of which $21, 087.25 was attributable to costs for deposition transcripts, and $1, 600.26 was for costs of photocopies, scanning, and the production of demonstrative boards used during the trial. Judge Hendren denied this first Bill of Costs, and Lindsey appealed that denial to the Eighth Circuit. The Court of Appeals reviewed the matter and found error in denying costs based solely on the district court's assumption that the FLSA did not contemplate an employer recovering costs if it prevailed at trial. The issue of costs was therefore remanded “for consideration of whether costs should be awarded under Rule 54(d)(1).” See Doc. 373-2, p. 5.

         The case was referred to the undersigned after remand, and Lindsey filed a second Bill of Costs (Doc. 375), now requesting reimbursement of the costs it incurred on appeal. The second Bill of Costs requested $4, 323.20. Part of this request, $812.85 for filing fees and copying costs, was already approved by the Eighth Circuit. See Doc. 374. The rest of the request, $3, 510.35 for the cost of the trial transcript that Lindsey submitted along with its appeal brief, is a matter left to the discretion of this Court.

         As will be explained in further detail below, Lindsey's first and second Bills of Costs (Docs. 359 and 375) are each GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case was filed on March 15, 2012, asserting FLSA claims individually and on behalf of a class of Lindsey employees. The individual plaintiffs listed in the original complaint were Chad Lochridge, Everette Lochridge, Twyla Lochridge, and Heather Lochridge. (Doc. 1). An Amended and Substituted Complaint was filed on March 28, 2012 (Doc. 4), adding one more individual plaintiff, Lindsey employee Kevin Kornegay. A Second Amended and Substituted Complaint was filed on June 28, 2012 (Doc. 16), and still more individual plaintiffs were added to the lawsuit: Linda Danforth, Ray Danforth, Patricia Leach, Debra McKee, Brian McKee, [2] Patsy Pickel, Steven Pickel, Carlis Smith, Lydia Smith, and Rebecca Smith. On August 16, 2012, a Third Amended and Substituted Complaint was filed (Doc. 36), which removed plaintiff Ray Danforth and added new plaintiffs Judy Kathryn Hale, Sherry Jenkins, Pearson Jenkins, and Ryan Agee.

         On February 4, 2013, the Court conditionally certified two collective-action classes. See Doc. 61. However, on December 10, 2013, the Court decertified one of the classes on Lindsey's motion. See Doc. 313. This left for trial the claims of one class of hourly workers, plus the individual claims of the 18 named plaintiffs. Approximately a month before the scheduled trial, a settlement was reached between: (1) Lindsey and the class, and (2) Lindsey and 11 of the 18 plaintiffs. The Court approved this settlement on April 7, 2014. (Doc. 325). This left for trial only the individual claims of the remaining seven plaintiffs: Chad Lochridge, Everette Lochridge, Twyla Lochridge, Patricia Leach, Carlis Smith, Lydia Smith, and Rebecca Smith.

         On September 26, 2014, following a five-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Lindsey. Fourteen days later, on October 10, 2014, Lindsey filed its first Bill of Costs (Doc. 359) relating to trial expenses. This Bill of Costs requested reimbursement of a grand total of $22, 687.51, which included the following: (1) the costs of deposing seven former plaintiffs who settled before trial and never testified at trial;[3] (2) the costs of deposing one former plaintiff who settled before trial but also testified at trial;[4] (3) the costs of deposing all seven individual plaintiffs who went to trial;[5] (4) the costs of deposing testifying witnesses Betsy Fox ($129.25 and $138.00, for two depositions), Job Branch ($393.50), and Anne Martin ($189.00); (5) the costs of photocopies, scanning, tabs, the creation of a CD, and a “project management” fee ($1, 030.96 total); and (6) the costs associated with the assembly of demonstrative boards used at trial ($1, 263.55). See Docs. 350, 359-1.

         Plaintiffs filed Objections (Doc. 360) to the first Bill of Costs, arguing that the Court should exercise its discretion and deny Lindsey's request in its entirety, since the trial Plaintiffs' claims were brought in good faith, and it would be manifestly unfair to burden them with costs after they sued to vindicate their rights under a remedial statute. Further, Plaintiffs argued that if the Court decided to tax some of the costs, others, such as the costs of deposing those plaintiffs who settled before trial and never testified, should be disallowed. Lindsey filed a Response (Doc. 361) to Plaintiffs' Objections, in which Lindsey argued that Plaintiffs had failed to present any evidence of special hardship, and thus had failed to defeat the presumption that costs are recoverable to the prevailing party under Rule 54(d). As for the deposition costs of the former plaintiffs who settled before trial, Lindsey argued that it was entitled to these costs because the former plaintiffs worked with all those who went to trial, and the former plaintiffs' depositions therefore cannot be said to have had “no relevance or relation to this case.” (Doc. 361, p. 5). Plaintiffs filed a Reply (Doc. 362) to Lindsey's Response, in which Plaintiffs reiterated that the deposition testimony of the settling plaintiffs was not reasonably necessary for the purpose of proving the claims of the seven who went to trial.

         After considering the parties' arguments, Judge Hendren issued an Order (Doc. 363) denying Lindsey's first Bill of Costs in its entirety. He reasoned that the FLSA's broad, remedial purpose, coupled with the fact that the statute does not require prospective plaintiffs to be notified that they may be responsible for the defendant's costs if they lose, tends to indicate that a successful defendant in an FLSA case should not recover its costs. In ruling against Lindsey, the Court interpreted the FLSA's silence on the matter:

The FLSA authorizes the recovery of costs by successful plaintiffs, but does not mention such recovery by successful defendants. A generous reading of the fee shifting provision in favor of employees suggests that they should not face taxation of costs if their suit is unsuccessful. The prospect that costs might be taxed against an unsuccessful plaintiff would undoubtedly dampen enthusiasm for seeking remedies under the law, thus undermining the FLSA's remedial purposes.

Id. at p. 4. The Court did not reach the question of whether costs would otherwise be taxable under the traditional analysis of Rule 54(d)(1), which codifies a rebuttable presumption that a prevailing party is entitled to be recompensed for its costs. See Leonard v. Sw. Bell Corp. Disability Income Plan, 408 F.3d 528, 533 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing Martin v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 251 F.3d 691, 696 (8th Cir. 2001)).

         As noted previously, Lindsey appealed the Court's decision to deny costs, arguing that the FLSA's silence on the issue of whether a defendant may recover costs does not preclude the Court from making that award under Rule 54(d). The Court of Appeals agreed with Lindsey, and now this Court's task is to assess whether, in the Court's discretion, costs should be awarded under Rule 54(d).

         After the case was remanded, Lindsey filed a second Bill of Costs (Doc. 375), seeking to recover $812.85 in copying and filing fees spent on the appeal, and $3, 510.35 for the cost of the transcript of the five-day jury trial, which Lindsey submitted along with its appellate briefing. The Eighth Circuit granted the $812.85 request for costs. With respect to the $3, 510.35 request directed to this Court for reimbursement of the trial transcript, Plaintiffs filed an Objection (Doc. 376), arguing that the transcript was not needed on appeal, as the sole issue for the Eighth Circuit was one of statutory interpretation. Lindsey thereafter filed a Response (Doc. 378) to Plaintiffs' Objections, citing to the case of Murphy v. L&J Press Corp., 577 F.2d 27, 29 (8th Cir. 1978), and maintaining that the cost of the transcript here was properly undertaken, just as it was in the Murphy case. However, a close reading of Murphy shows that the parties there cited extensively to the trial transcript in their appellate briefing, and they agreed that it was necessary to prepare the trial transcript to submit to the Eighth Circuit on appeal. Id. The Eighth Circuit in Murphy also concurred that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.