Hiramanek et al v. Clark et al

Filing 812

ORDER RE BILL OF COSTS. Signed by Judge James Donato on 6/13/2017. (jdlc3S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/13/2017)

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1 2 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 3 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 4 5 ADIL HIRAMANEK, et al., Plaintiffs, 6 7 8 9 Case No. 3:13-cv-00228-JD ORDER RE BILL OF COSTS v. Re: Dkt. Nos. 781-82 BETH MILLER, et al., Defendants. Pro se plaintiffs Adil and Roda Hiramanek object to the costs taxed against them as the 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 losing parties. Dkt. No. 782. This action has traveled a long and troubled course through more 12 than 800 individual docket entries and the courtrooms of several district and magistrate judges. It 13 involved a multiplicity of claims against California state courts and employees, all of which have 14 now been stricken, dismissed or adjudicated against the Hiramaneks. As Judge Whyte, who 15 previously oversaw this matter, found in a similar case brought by Adil Hiramanek, resolution of 16 the claims alleged here required the court and defendants “to expend excessive resources,” and the 17 lawsuit as a whole was “harassing and largely frivolous.” Hiramanek v. California Judicial 18 Council, No. 15-cv-4377-RMW, 2016 WL 6427870, at *8 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 31, 2016). For this and 19 other misconduct, the Hiramaneks have been declared vexatious litigants in this district and in 20 California state court. Id. at *8-9; Dkt. No. 769. 21 Most of the prevailing defendants agreed to bear their own attorneys’ fees and costs upon 22 dismissal. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 802. Defendants Beth Miller and the Santa Clara Superior Court did 23 not, and they filed a bill of costs seeking to recover $14,058.01 from the Hiramaneks. Dkt. No. 24 761. The Clerk of the Court taxed costs in the amount of $9,130.99 after disallowing a portion of 25 the claim for transcripts under Civil Local Rule 54-3(c). Dkt. No. 781. Virtually all of the taxed 26 costs are for transcript fees save for $394.21 in subpoena fees. Id. 27 28 Despite the reduction in allowed costs, the Hiramaneks filed almost 100 pages of objections. Dkt. No. 782. In overwhelming part, these objections are vituperative attacks on 1 judges and court personnel that have nothing at all to do with the propriety of the taxed costs. The 2 Court strikes all of the pejorative comments in the objections and attached declaration. 3 For what little remains on the merits, the Hiramaneks do not offer any facts or case law 4 that disturb the clerk’s cost award. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) provides that 5 “[u]nless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs -- other than 6 attorney’s fees -- should be allowed to the prevailing party.” See also Civil Local Rule 54-3. As 7 this plain language indicates, “Rule 54(d) creates a presumption for awarding costs to prevailing 8 parties; the losing party must show why costs should not be awarded.” Save Our Valley v. Sound 9 Transit, 335 F.3d 932, 944-45 (9th Cir. 2003). Because of this presumption, the district court need not give any affirmative reason or explanation for awarding costs, and bears no burden to justify 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 routine cost awards. Id. at 945-46. 12 That is enough to confirm the taxed costs, and the Hiramaneks have not provided any 13 reason for the Court to depart from the award. Their suggestion that costs are improper because 14 they cannot afford to pay them is unsupported. It is true that they were granted IFP status at the 15 start of this litigation. But IFP plaintiffs are not automatically protected from the taxation of costs 16 in favor of the prevailing party. Warren v. Guelker, 29 F.3d 1386, 1390 (9th Cir. 1994). The 17 Hiramaneks did not proffer with their objections meaningful evidence of an inability to pay, and 18 cannot skirt costs on that ground. See Thomasson v. GC Servs. Ltd. P’ship, No. 05-cv-940-LAB, 19 2007 WL 3203037, at *4 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 29, 2007). 20 The suggestion that they should be spared costs under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 21 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (“ADA”), is also ill-taken. The Supreme Court has determined that a 22 prevailing defendant in a Title VII case can obtain attorneys’ fees only when the plaintiff’s action 23 “was frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.” Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC, 434 24 U.S. 412, 421 (1978). This limitation is intended to ensure that plaintiffs are not unduly chilled 25 from pursuing legitimate if ultimately unsuccessful enforcement actions. Id. at 421-22. The Ninth 26 Circuit has applied the same standard to the award of costs under the ADA. Martin v. California 27 Dept. of Veterans Affairs, 560 F.3d 1042, 1052 (9th Cir. 2009). 28 2 1 This is not a safe harbor for the Hiramaneks. As an initial matter, the ADA claims were 2 just part of the overall constellation of claims they alleged. And while the ADA claims figured 3 against the Santa Clara Superior Court, the claim against Miller was for alleged racial 4 discrimination only. Dkt. No. 784 at 2-3. As defendants state, the bulk of the taxed costs are 5 attributable to the trial at which the jury found in favor of Miller on that allegation. Id.; see also 6 Dkt. No. 758. The Hiramaneks make no effort to account for these uncontested facts, but merely 7 assert, without foundation, a blanket immunity from costs under the ADA for all purposes. Even if, purely for discussion purposes, the Hiramaneks’ proposition were taken at face 9 value, the Court has no trouble finding that their ADA claims were frivolous and unreasonable. 10 The summary judgment orders dismissing the ADA claims for telephonic court appearances and 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 other accommodations amply establish that the Hiramaneks had no basis in fact or law for a 12 disability discrimination cause of action. Dkt. Nos. 546, 570. In addition, Judge Whyte clearly 13 deemed this case as a whole, including the ADA claims, to be frivolous in the order finding Adil 14 Hiramanek to be a vexatious litigant. Hiramanek, 2016 WL 6427870, at *8. 15 Costs are imposed against the Hiramaneks in the amount taxed by the Clerk of the Court. 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 Dated: June 13, 2017 18 19 JAMES DONATO United States District Judge 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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