Stricklin v. Dolgencorp LLC
ORDER denying 45 Defendant's Motion for Costs. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 05/14/2013. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
JOSHUA D. STRICKLIN
Case No. 3:11-cv-00246-KGB
Before the Court is defendant Dolgencorp LLC’s motion for costs (Dkt. No. 45). On
March 5, 2013, plaintiff Joshua D. Stricklin responded by filing an objection to the motion for
costs (Dkt. No. 46). In that same pleading, Mr. Stricklin incorporated a motion to alter or
amend this Court’s final judgment under Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt.
No. 46). Dolgencorp has responded to the motion to alter or amend the judgment (Dkt. No. 52).
On March 13, 2013, Mr. Stricklin filed a notice of appeal, which indicated that he was
“appeal[ing] the grant of Summary Judgment to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals” (Dkt. No. 48).
First, Mr. Stricklin’s motion to alter or amend the Court’s judgment under Rule 59 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is denied. The general rule is that “[a] notice of appeal divests
the district court of jurisdiction of those aspects of the case involved in the appeal.” Harmon v.
Farmers Home Admin., 101 F.3d 574, 587 (8th Cir. 1996). However, an exception to this
general rule applies if certain motions are pending at the time the notice of appeal is filed,
including a Rule 59 motion. Rule 4(a)(4) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure provides,
in pertinent part:
(A) If a party timely files in the district court any of the following motions
under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the time to file an appeal runs
for all parties from the entry of the order disposing of the last such
(iv) to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59;
(B)(i) If a party files a notice of appeal after the court announces or enters
a judgment--but before it disposes of any motion listed in Rule 4(a)(4)(A)-the notice becomes effective to appeal a judgment or order, in whole or in
part, when the order disposing of the last such remaining motion is
Accordingly, this Court has jurisdiction to consider Mr. Stricklin’s Rule 59(e) motion to alter or
amend the judgment.
A district court has broad discretion in determining whether to grant or deny a motion to
alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Trickey v.
Kaman Indus. Technologies Corp., 705 F.3d 788, 807 (8th Cir. 2013). Such motions “serve the
limited function of correcting manifest errors of law or fact.” U.S. ex rel. Raynor v. Nat’l Rural
Utilities Co-op. Fin., Corp., 690 F.3d 951, 958 (8th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation omitted).
Here, Mr. Stricklin’s sole argument for altering or amending the judgment is that “[a]
view of the record indicates that the court failed to properly credit Plaintiff’s evidence that he
could perform the essential functions of the job, instead holding plaintiff to an ex parte
communication from his physician that he knew nothing about” (Dkt. No. 46, at 2-3). The
Court discussed these issues in detail in its Opinion and Order on the motion for summary
judgment (Dkt. No. 43, at 16-17). As Dolgencorp argues, Mr. Stricklin’s disagreement with the
Court’s summary judgment ruling does not support altering or amending the judgment under
Rule 59. As one federal court concluded, “[a] rule 59(e) motion is not to be used as a means to
reargue matters already argued and disposed of or as an attempt to relitigate a point of
disagreement between the Court and the litigant.” In re Carmichael, 448 B.R. 690, 692 (Bankr.
E.D. Pa. 2011). The Court concludes that no manifest error of law or fact requires the Court to
alter or amend its judgment. Accordingly, Mr. Stricklin’s Rule 59 motion is denied (Dkt. No.
Second, Dolgencorp’s motion for costs is denied (Dkt. No. 45). Dolgencorp seeks costs
in the amount of $2,721.26. Rule 54(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
“costs—other than attorney’s fees—should be allowed to the prevailing party.” “A prevailing
party is presumptively entitled to recover all of its costs.” 168th & Dodge, LP v. Rave Reviews
Cinemas, LLC, 501 F.3d 945, 958 (8th Cir. 2007). The losing party bears the burden of making
a showing that an award is inequitable under the circumstances.
Brunswick Corp., 309 F.3d 494, 498 (2002).
Concord Boat Corp. v.
Despite the prevailing party’s presumptive
entitlement to costs, the district court has substantial discretion in awarding costs to the
prevailing party. Greaser v. State of Mo. Dep’t of Corrections, 145 F.3d 979, 985 (8th Cir.
1998). The Eighth Circuit has stated that “[i]t is of course within a court’s discretion to deny
costs because a plaintiff is poor or for other good reason . . . .” Poe v. John Deere Co., 695 F.2d
1103, 1108 (8th Cir. 1982).
In this case, Mr. Stricklin was granted in forma pauperis status (Dkt. No. 5).
response to Dolgencorp’s motion for costs, Mr. Stricklin states that he is “indigent with no
prospects in the future” (Dkt. No. 46). For these reasons, the Court concludes that “[a]n award
of costs at or near the amount sought by [defendant] would be punitive. Awarding such costs
would have a chilling effect on persons who might seek to enforce their rights” under
antidiscrimination laws. Roeben v. BG Excelsior Ltd. P’ship, No. 4:06CV01643JLH, 2008 WL
340486 (E.D. Ark. Feb. 5, 2008).
In Roeben, the defendant sought $6,555.78 in costs after the court granted summary
judgment on the plaintiff’s age-discrimination claim and declined to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s state-law claims. Id. The court in Roeben declined to award
costs in any amount, finding that an award of costs would be inequitable. Id. The court also
noted that awarding costs would be premature given that “significant claims under state law
remain to be litigated in state court.” Id.
Here, as in Roeben, assessing costs against Mr. Stricklin would be punitive and could
have a chilling effect on persons who seek to enforce their rights under antidiscrimination laws.
The Court finds that, under the circumstances, it would be inequitable to award costs. For these
reasons, Dolgencorp’s motion for costs is denied (Dkt. No. 45).
SO ORDERED this the 14th day of May, 2013.
Kristine G. Baker
United States District Judge
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