Daniellle Parker v. Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC et al

Filing 75

ORDER Denying Award of Costs. Signed by Judge Thelton E. Henderson on 06/26/17. (tehlc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/26/2017)

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1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 DANIELLE PARKER, Plaintiff, 5 6 7 v. 8 COMCAST CABLE COMMUNICATIONS MANAGEMENT, LLC, 9 Case No. 15-cv-05673-TEH ORDER DENYING AWARD OF COSTS Defendant. 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Now before the Court is Plaintiff’s opposition to Defendant’s bill of costs. Plaintiff 12 asks the Court to decline to award Defendant any costs on the ground that Plaintiff is 13 impoverished and unable to pay. Even though Plaintiff has not filed a motion to deny 14 costs, the Court finds it expeditious to consider her request now before the Clerk of the 15 Court spends time reviewing Defendant’s bill. For the reasons set forth below, the Court 16 DECLINES to award Defendant any costs in the present matter. 17 18 19 BACKGROUND This case arose out of the May 2013 termination of Plaintiff Danielle Parker 20 (“Plaintiff” or “Parker”) from her position as a sales consultant for Defendant Comcast 21 (“Defendant” or “Comcast”). Plaintiff claimed her termination violated public policy 22 because Defendant discriminated against her on the basis of disability. Defendant 23 contended that Plaintiff’s supervisor and human resources manager, who made the 24 decision to terminate Plaintiff, were not on notice that she suffered from a disability and 25 thus did not terminate her “because of” a disability. 26 Finding that Plaintiff had failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination, the 27 Court granted summary judgment for Defendant on May 25, 2017. ECF No. 68. Judgment 28 was entered in favor of Defendant on the same date. ECF No. 69. Defendant filed their bill 1 of costs on June 6, 2017, seeking $9,028.16 in costs. ECF No. 70. Plaintiff filed a 2 memorandum arguing that costs should be denied or alternatively reduced. ECF No. 72. 3 Because the Court agrees with Plaintiff that asking her to cover the claimed costs would be 4 unjust, the Court does not need to rule on Plaintiff’s objections to specific costs. 5 6 7 LEGAL STANDARD Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) provides that “costs other than attorneys’ 8 fees shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise 9 directs.” “By its terms, the rule creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs to a prevailing party, but vests in the district court discretion to refuse to award costs.” 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Association of Mexican–American Educators v. State of California, 231 F.3d 572, 591 (9th 12 Cir. 2000). In order to overcome the presumption, a losing party must show that to award 13 costs to the prevailing party would be unjust. Key v. Chrysler Motors Co., 128 N.M. 739, 14 741 (2000). Though broad, the Court’s “discretion is not unlimited. A district court must 15 specify reasons for its refusal to award costs.” Mexican-American Educators, 231 F.3d at 16 591 (internal quotations omitted). 17 In the Ninth Circuit, there are several factors which may justify denial of costs: “(1) 18 the losing party's limited financial resources; (2) misconduct on the part of the prevailing 19 party; (3) the chilling effect of imposing such high costs on future civil rights litigants; (4) 20 whether the issues in the case were close and difficult; (5) whether the prevailing party's 21 recovery was nominal or partial; (6) whether the losing party litigated in good faith; and 22 (7) whether the case presented a landmark issue of national importance.” Van Horn v. 23 Dhillon, 2011 WL 66244 at *3 (E.D. Cal., 2011); see also Quan v. Computer Sciences 24 Corp., 623 F.3d 870, 888-89 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Champion Produce, Inc. v. Ruby 25 Robinson Co., Inc., 342 F.3d 1016, 1022 (9th Cir. 2003)); Mexican-American Educators, 26 231 F.3d at 592. These factors do not limit the reasons why a court may find justice 27 requires denial of costs; the Ninth Circuit, in listing these reasons for denial, did not intend 28 the list to be exhaustive. Mexican-American Educators, 231 F.3d at 593. 2 1 2 DISCUSSION In this case, the Court finds it necessary to exercise its discretion to decline to award 3 Defendant costs. The Court’s decision rests on three of the seven factors enumerated by 4 the Ninth Circuit in Champion Produce, Inc., 342 F.3d at 1022. 5 First and foremost, the Court notes Plaintiff’s extreme financial hardship. 6 According to her declaration, Parker is unemployed, she does not own a car or a home, she 7 is two months behind on paying rent, and she is approximately $5000 in debt. Parker Decl. 8 ¶¶ 1-7 (ECF No. 71). She is a single mother raising a 9 year-old child with no income. To 9 add over $9000 in costs to Plaintiff’s present burden would be manifestly unjust. 10 Secondly, the Court takes into account that this was a disability discrimination case United States District Court Northern District of California 11 filed by an employee who genuinely believed she was terminated because she suffered 12 from a disability. To require an indigent plaintiff who brought suit over what she thought 13 was a violation of her right to equal protection under the law would have a chilling effect 14 on disability cases and it could deter future litigants from bringing suit. This consideration 15 weighs in favor of granting Plaintiff’s request to deny costs. 16 Lastly, the fact that Plaintiff litigated her case in good faith further convinces the 17 Court that Plaintiff should not be required to cover Defendant’s costs. Plaintiff brought a 18 meritorious claim, followed all deadlines and procedures, and timely opposed Defendant’s 19 motion for summary judgment. Disagreement over discovery was properly handled and 20 resolved under the direction of a Magistrate Judge. 21 22 23 CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above and in the interest of justice, the award of costs sought 24 by Defendants is hereby DENIED. 25 IT IS SO ORDERED. 26 27 28 Dated: 06/26/17 _____________________________________ THELTON E. HENDERSON United States District Judge 3

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