Moreland et al v. Internal Revenue Service, Acting Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER that Plaintiffs must pay costs in the total amount of $318.61 as more fully set out in order. Signed by Judge C Lynwood Smith, Jr on 05/29/14. (SPT )
2014 May-29 PM 03:48
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
KEVIN D. MORELAND and
STEVEN MILLER, Acting
Commissioner of Internal
Civil Action No. CV-13-S-579-NW
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Following a bench trial on April 14, 2014, this court entered a final judgment
in favor of defendant and taxed costs to plaintiffs pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 54(d).1 Defendant submitted a Bill of Costs on April 24, 2014, requesting
$1,274.45 for the cost of six deposition transcripts obtained during discovery.2 The
pro se plaintiffs filed an objection to the Bill of Costs on May 2, 2014, asserting that
the depositions conducted by defendant were unnecessary, and that requiring them
to pay costs would be unjust due to their limited financial resources.3
The court rejects plaintiffs’ first argument. Depositions are a reasonable and
Doc. no. 31 (Final Judgment). Rule 54(d) provides, in pertinent part, that “costs — other
than attorney’s fees — should be allowed to the prevailing party.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1).
Doc. no. 34 (Bill of Costs).
Doc. no. 35.
necessary part of almost any civil litigation, and, in this case, the depositions were
necessary for defendant to develop its defense to plaintiffs’ claims.
Plaintiffs’ second argument warrants closer consideration. The Eleventh
Circuit has held that “a non-prevailing party’s financial status is a factor that a district
court may, but need not, consider in its award of costs pursuant to Rule 54(d).”
Chapman v. AI Transport, 229 F.3d 1012, 1039 (11th Cir. 2000) (citing Smith v.
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, 47 F.3d 97, 100 (3rd Cir.
1995); McGill v. Faulkner, 18 F.3d 456, 459 (7th Cir. 1994)). “Even in those rare
circumstances where the non-prevailing party’s financial circumstances are
considered in determining the amount of costs to be awarded, a court may not decline
to award any costs at all.” Chapman, 229 F.3d at 1039. See also Durrett v. Jenkins
Brickyard, Inc., 678 F.2d 911, 917 (11th Cir. 1982) (holding that “in no case may the
district court refuse altogether to award attorney’s fees to a prevailing Title VII
defendant because of the plaintiff’s financial condition,” because “[a] fee must be
assessed which will serve the deterrent purpose of the statute, and no fee will provide
no deterrence.”) (alteration supplied).
In the present case, plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis along with their complaint,4 and the court partially granted the motion,
Doc. no. 2.
reducing plaintiffs’ $400 filing fee to $100.5 The court finds that a commensurate
reduction in the amount of costs taxed would be appropriate here. Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that plaintiffs must pay costs in the total amount of Three Hundred
Eighteen and 61/100ths Dollars ($318.61).
DONE this 29th day of May, 2014.
United States District Judge
Doc. no. 5.
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