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Wojcik v. Memorial Hermann Health System

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

November 8, 2019

Irena Wojcik, Plaintiff,
v.
Memorial Hermann Health System, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GRAY H. MILLER JUDGE

         Pending before the court is defendant Memorial Hermann Health System's (“Memorial Hermann”) bill of costs. Dkts. 55, 56. Plaintiff Irena Wojcik has objected to these costs. Dkt. 57. Having reviewed the bill of costs, objections, the record, and the applicable law, the court finds that Wojcik's objections should be SUSTAINED IN PART and OVERRULED IN PART, and awards costs to Memorial Hermann in the amount of $3, 000.69.

         I. Background

         On October 3, 2019, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Memorial Hermann. Dkt. 52. Memorial Hermann seeks to recover $4, 429.19 in costs. Dkt. 55. Memorial Hermann seeks $3, 087.99 in costs for written deposition transcripts, $1, 263.50 in costs for Wojcik's video deposition, and $77.70 for records retrieval from the Texas Workforce Commission. Dkt. 56-1.

         Wojcik objects to the entire $4, 429.19 of costs on the basis of the “economic disparity” between Wojcik and Memorial Hermann. Dkt. 57 at 3. Wojcik also make certain specific objections. Specifically, Wojcik objects to the entire $1, 263.50 for video depositions, arguing that Memorial Hermann did not explain why it was necessary to record her deposition on video. Id. at 4. Wojcik further objects to $165.00 in administrative charges associated with the written transcript of her deposition. Id. at 5. Memorial Hermann has not responded to Wojcik's objections.

         II. Legal Standard

         “Unless a federal statute, [the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure], or a court order provides otherwise, costs-other than attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d). Absent objections, the clerk may tax the costs fourteen days after the prevailing party notifies the clerk of its costs. Id. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1920, the judge or clerk may tax the following as costs:

(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 [28 U.S.C. § 1923];
(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services under [28 U.S.C. § 1828].

28 U.S.C. § 1920. A district court may not award costs omitted from the list. Cook Children's Med. Ctr. v. New Eng. PPO Plan, 491 F.3d 266, 274 (5th Cir. 2007). Rule 54(d) “authorizes the district court to deny the award.” Pacheco v. Mineta, 448 F.3d 783, 793 (5th Cir. 2006) (citing Schwarz v. Folloder, 767 F.2d 125, 131 (5th Cir. 1985)). However, the Fifth Circuit “has held that ‘the prevailing party is prima facie entitled to costs,' and has described the denial of costs as ‘in the nature of a penalty.'” Id. (quoting Schwarz, 767 F.2d at 131). Accordingly, “the general discretion conferred by Rule 54(d)(1) has been circumscribed by the judicially-created condition that a court ...


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