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Cruz v. Mattis

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

May 21, 2018

BEATRICE L. CRUZ, Plaintiff,
v.
JIM MATTIS, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          IRMA CARRILLO RAMIREZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         By order of reference filed January 2, 2018 (doc. 55), before the Court is Plaintiff's Objections to Defendant's Request for Costs, filed December 29, 2017 (doc. 54). Based on the relevant filings and applicable law, the plaintiff's objections are SUSTAINED, and the defendant is awarded $2, 932.30 in costs.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On February 19, 2015, Beatrice L. Cruz (Plaintiff) filed suit against the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense (Defendant), [1] asserting claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) for race and sex discrimination, and retaliation. (docs. 1 at 1-2; 27 at 1-2.)[2] On May 31, 2017, Defendant moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims, and Plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment on certain of Defendant's affirmative defenses. (doc. 51 at 1; see docs. 35; 38.) On December 14, 2017, the Court granted Defendant's motion, denied Plaintiff's motion as moot, and entered a final judgment in Defendant's favor dismissing the case with prejudice and awarding Defendant his costs. (docs. 51, 52.)

         On December 27, 2017, Defendant submitted his bill of costs seeking $1, 627.55 for “printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in this case, ” and $1, 618.05 in costs for “exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in this case, ” for a total of $3, 245.60. (doc. 53) On December 29, 2017, Plaintiff filed her objections to costs for transcripts in the amount of $163.00, and to costs for copies of materials in the amount of $150.30. (doc. 54 at 1-3.)

         II. ANALYSIS

         Under Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a prevailing party in a civil action is entitled to recover its costs unless otherwise directed by a court or statute. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). There is “a strong presumption that the prevailing party will be awarded costs.” Schwarz v. Folloder, 767 F.2d 125, 131 (5th Cir. 1985) (citing Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. August, 450 U.S. 346, 352 (1981)). This presumption is rebuttable, however, and the district court retains the discretion not to award costs. See United States v. D.K.G. Appaloosas, Inc., 829 F.2d 532, 539 (5th Cir. 1987).

         “[S]ection 1920 strictly limits the types of costs that may be awarded to a prevailing party.” Erfindergemeinschaft UroPep GbR v. Eli Lilly and Co., No. 2:15-CV-1202-WCB, 2017 WL 3044594, at *1 (E.D. Tex. July 18, 2017) (citing Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 440-41 (1987)). As noted by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, “[t]he Supreme Court has indicated that federal courts may only award those costs articulated in section 1920 absent explicit statutory or contractual authorization to the contrary.” Mota v. Univ. of Tex. Houston Health Sci. Ctr., 261 F.3d 512, 529-30 (5th Cir. 2001).[3] The party seeking recovery of its costs bears the burden of proving the amount and necessity of its costs. See Holmes v. Cessna Aircraft Co., 11 F.3d 63, 64 (5th Cir. 1994); Fogleman v. ARAMCO, 920 F.2d 278, 285-86 (5th Cir. 1991).

         A. Transcripts

         Plaintiff argues that $163.00 of Defendant's costs for transcripts “are unrecoverable because they are for other than [a] transcript.” (doc. 54 at 1-2.) Defendant does not dispute that his bill of costs should be reduced by this amount. (doc. 57 at 1 n.1.) Plaintiff's objection to $163.00 in transcript costs is sustained, and Defendant's total requested costs are reduced by that amount.

         B. Copies of Materials

         Plaintiff contends that part of Defendant's costs for copies of materials were “not necessarily obtained for use in the case” because they included copies of “1, 002 pages of an [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)] Report of Investigation” that she already possessed and “specifically disclaimed interest in receiving during discovery.” (doc. 54 at 2-3.) Defendant responds that the EEOC report was “necessarily obtained for use in the case” because although Plaintiff had a copy of the report, he did not, and he relied on the report in his summary judgment motion and in response to her partial summary judgment motion. (doc. 57 at 3-4.)

         Section 1920(4) allows for the taxing of “costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case.”[4] 28 U.S.C. § 1920(4); see Fogleman, 920 F.2d at 286 (recognizing that costs of copying materials are properly taxable when “necessarily obtained for use in the case . . . provided that the prevailing party demonstrates that necessity.”). While a prevailing party need not identify every photocopy made for use in the course of legal proceedings, it must provide “some demonstration that the reproduction costs necessarily result from that litigation.” Fogleman, 920 F.2d at 286.

         “The general rule is that duplicating expenses are properly taxable only to the extent that the copies were used in support of a successful motion for summary judgment, as exhibits at trial, or were furnished to and used by the [c]ourt or opposing counsel.” Charles v. Sanchez, No. EP-13-CV-00193-DCG, 2015 WL 11439074, at *13 (W.D. Tex. Oct. 7, 2015) (citing cases); see Scroggins v. Air Cargo, Inc., 534 F.2d 1124, 1133 (5th Cir. 1976) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1920(4)) (finding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that “copies presented . . . pursuant to the court's orders, ” and “copies of exhibits and documents . . . prepared for the court's consideration of [a] motion for summary judgment” were “necessarily obtained for use in the case” (quotations omitted)). Although the losing party “should be taxed for the cost of reproducing relevant documents and ...


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