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Edwards v. 4JLJ, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division

June 3, 2019

JOSHUA EDWARDS, et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
4JLJ, LLC; dba J4 OILFIELD SERVICES, et al, Defendants.

          ORDER ON REQUEST FOR BILL OF COSTS

          NELVA GONZALES RAMOS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On April 10, 2019, Defendants filed their proposed bill of costs (D.E. 333), seeking a total of $72, 434.95 in taxable costs. On April 23, 2019, before the expiration of the 14-day notice period when the Clerk was to issue the bill of costs, Plaintiffs filed their objections (D.E. 334). Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). Therefore, taxing of the bill of costs is now a matter for the Court. By separate Order (D.E. 339), the Court deemed Plaintiffs' objections timely filed and Defendants' objection on that basis in their reply (D.E. 335) is OVERRULED. For the reasons set out below, the Court awards $14, 920.98 to Defendants as costs against Plaintiffs.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), costs other than attorney's fees should be granted to the prevailing party. Rule 54 affords the court discretion to award taxable costs according to the circumstances of the case and 28 U.S.C. § 1920 defines which costs are taxable. Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 440 (1987). The statute states:

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 under section 1923 of this title;
(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of interpretation services under section 1828 of this title.

28 U.S.C. § 1920. The court does not have discretion to tax expenses that are omitted from § 1920. Crawford Fitting, 482 U.S. at 441; Coats v. Penrod Drilling Corp., 5 F.3d 877, 891 (5th Cir. 1993).

         The party who seeks to recover costs has the burden of showing the necessity and reasonableness of the costs requested. Faculty Rights Coal. v. Shahrokhi, No. Civ.A. H-04-2127, 2005 WL 1924192, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 10, 2005). A district court has wide discretion to determine whether the prevailing party is entitled to an award of costs for claimed expenses in a particular case. Migis v. Pearle Vision, Inc., 135 F.3d 1041, 1049 (5th Cir. 1998); Conoco, Inc. v. Energy & Envtl. Int'l, L.C., No. Civ.A. H-01-4242 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 22, 2006).

         Such costs may be denied in unusual cases, such as those where there are offsetting victories, where the losing party fought valiantly in a close case in the public interest, or where the prevailing party's litigation tactics were abusive or vexatious. Sheets v. Yamaha Corp., 891 F.2d 533, 539 (5th Cir. 1990) (addressing hardball tactics and taxing costs against the prevailing party); Salley v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 966 F.2d 1011, 1017 (5th Cir. 1992) (improper litigation conduct warrants a denial of costs to a prevailing party); Johnson v. Big Lots Stores, Inc., 639 F.Supp.2d 696 (E.D. La. 2009) (addressing the “equitable” taxation of costs where both parties enjoyed some substantive victories); Rose v. East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, No. 2:05 CV 216, 2008 WL 4755609 (E.D. Tex. Oct. 28, 2008) (addressing a public interest victory in a case lost on its merits). The court may also consider the losing party's limited financial resources and good faith prosecution of its action, although neither of those factors alone is sufficient to deny all costs. Smith v. Chrysler Grp., L.L.C., 909 F.3d 744, 753 (5th Cir. 2018); Pacheco v. Mineta, 448 F.3d 783, 794-95 (5th Cir. 2006).

         In addition to weighing these equitable issues, a court has “great latitude” or “wide discretion” to make fact determinations regarding whether specific costs that fall within the § 1920 definitions were reasonable and necessary for use in the case. Crawford Fitting, 482 U.S. at 441-43; Fogleman v. ARAMCO, 920 F.2d 278, 286 (5th Cir. 1991). A court is required to give “careful scrutiny” to the costs submitted by the prevailing party. Farmer v. Arabian Am. Oil Co., 379 U.S. 227, 235 (1964). Whether costs are denied in their ...


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