Baldhosky v. Hubbard et al

Filing 282

ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Jeremy D. Peterson on 03/08/22 GRANTING 280 Request to Seal; plaintiff's submission of his financial statement is SEALED; GRANTING 273 Motion to Re-Tax Costs ; DENYING defendants' Bill of Costs. (Benson, A.)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 RAYMOND BALDHOSKY, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 Case No. 1:12-cv-1200 (PC) ORDER GRANTING MOTION RE COSTS TAXED v. ECF No. 273 SUSAN HUBBARD, et al., 15 Defendants. 16 ORDER GRANTING REQUEST TO SEAL DOCUMENTS ECF No. 280 17 18 This matter is before the court to consider whether it is appropriate for plaintiff, a former 19 state prisoner with a permanent disability, to pay costs to the state on behalf of defendants, who 20 provided medical care and access to care for plaintiff while imprisoned. Plaintiff moves for court 21 review of 7,672.44 dollars of costs taxed against him. ECF No. 273; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 22 54(d); Local Rule 292(e). Defendants have filed an opposition, ECF No. 276, and plaintiff has 23 replied, ECF No. 277. On August 12, 2021, the court heard arguments on this motion, and the 24 parties were allowed to submit additional briefing. ECF Nos. 280,1 281. This matter is ripe for 25 review. 26 27 28 1 Plaintiff also seeks to seal financial documents. ECF No. 280. That request is unopposed, and the court will grant it. 1 1 Plaintiff is a wheelchair-bound paraplegic individual who alleged that defendants 2 provided inadequate treatment that led to pressure sores and infections. He alleged medical 3 deliberate indifference claims against defendants, and the case culminated in a six-day trial, with 4 testimony from plaintiff, David Patterson, Tara Godoy, Angel Gonzalez, Teresa Grossi, Amanda 5 Kaylor, Dianna Machelle Dunn, Carrie Indendi, Thomas Nguyen, Lance Peters, Julius Metts, 6 Timothy Byers, Isabel Ruff, and John Fullerton. The jury deliberated for more than two hours 7 before rendering a verdict for defendants. ECF No. 263. Defendants now seek trial preparation 8 costs in the amount of 7,672.44 dollars for taking fourteen depositions in preparation for trial. 9 10 Discussion Rule 54(d) governs the award of costs and creates a presumption in favor of awarding 11 costs to the prevailing party. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d); Ass’n of Mex.-Am. Educators v. 12 California, 231 F.3d 572, 591 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (Rule 54(d) “creates a presumption in 13 favor of awarding costs to a prevailing party, but vests in the district court the discretion to refuse 14 to award costs.”). “Generally, a district court has discretion to deny a prevailing party’s request 15 for an award of taxable costs but must specify its reasons for denying such a request.” Baker v. 16 Cottrell, Inc., 831 F. App’x 246, 249 (9th Cir. 2020) (upholding denial of costs for the prevailing 17 party by district court for failure to follow procedures in the local rules) (citing Berkla v. Corel 18 Corp., 302 F.3d 909, 921 (9th Cir. 2002)). The reasons for denying costs to a prevailing party are 19 not finite. For example, in denying costs, district courts can consider plaintiff’s limited financial 20 resources, the economic disparity between parties, and the potential chilling effect on similar 21 actions in the future. Escriba v. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc., 743 F.3d 1236, 1247-48 (9th Cir. 22 2014); see P.N. v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 474 F.3d 1165, 1168 (9th Cir. 2007) (“[F]actual 23 findings underlying the district court’s decision are reviewed for clear error.”). District courts 24 may also consider “the complexity of the case, [plaintiff]’s good faith in asserting her claims, the 25 parties’ conduct during the course of litigation, and the nominal relief awarded to [defendant].” 26 Mau v. Mitsunaga & Assocs., 742 F. App’x 279, 280 (9th Cir. 2018) (internal quotation marks 27 omitted). 28 2 1 Here, defendants are the prevailing party and enjoy the presumption in favor of awarding 2 costs. Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d). Plaintiff, however, has limited financial resources as shown in his 3 sealed financial disclosures. ECF No. 280. Defendants argue that plaintiff’s financial 4 documentation is not detailed enough to assess whether the award of costs will render him 5 indigent. I disagree. Plaintiff has shown that he has debt and that his expenses are greater than 6 his income. Additionally, there is great financial disparity between the parties. These reasons are 7 sufficient to find that costs should be denied. 8 Conclusion 9 Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that: 10 1. Plaintiff’s request to seal, ECF No. 280, is granted and his submission of his 11 financial statement is sealed. Only court personnel and defense counsel are permitted access to 12 the sealed records. This order is to remain in effect. 13 14 2. Plaintiff’s motion to re-tax costs, ECF No. 273, is granted, and defendants’ bill of costs is denied. 15 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 Dated: March 8, 2022 18 JEREMY D. PETERSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 19 20 21 3. 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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