Zayas v. State of California et al

Filing 143

ORDER by Judge Edward M. Chen denying 140 Plaintiff's Motion for Review of Taxation of Costs.. (emclc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/28/2019)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 ESTRELLA LYSANDRA ZAYAS, Plaintiff, 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No. 17-cv-02739-EMC v. JOSE ORTEGA, et al., Defendants. ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR REVIEW OF TAXATION OF COSTS Docket No. 140 12 13 A jury verdict was entered in favor of Defendant Jose Ortega on November 21, 2018. See 14 Docket No. 132 (jury verdict). Thereafter, Officer Ortega filed a bill of costs on November 30, 15 2018, seeking costs in the amount of $2,676.00. See Docket No. 135 (bill of costs); see also Civ. 16 L.R. 54-1(a) (providing that a bill of costs should be filed “[n]o later than 14 days after entry of 17 judgment or order under which costs may be claimed”). On December 13, 2018, Officer Ortega 18 filed an amended bill of costs, lowering the amount sought to $2,050.50. See Docket No. 136 19 (amended bill of costs). Plaintiff Estrella Zayas did not file objections to either the original bill of 20 costs or the amended bill of costs. See Civ. L.R. 54-2(a) (providing that objections must be filed 21 “[w]ithin 14 days after service by any party of its bill of costs”). On January 8, 2019, the Clerk of 22 the Court taxed costs in the amount of $1,646.75. See Docket No. 137 (costs taxed, disallowing 23 $368.75). Although Ms. Zayas had not objected to either the bill of costs or amended bill of costs, 24 Ms. Zayas subsequently filed a motion for review of the taxation of costs. This is the motion 25 currently pending before the Court. 26 In the motion, Ms. Zayas asks the Court to, in effect, excuse her from paying costs based 27 on financial inability to pay. See Zayas Decl. ¶¶ 3-5 (testifying that she is a Certified Medical 28 Assistant, that her gross monthly income is approximately $3,000, and that her monthly expenses 1 are approximately $2,500). Ms. Zayas notes that “imposing costs on losing civil rights plaintiffs 2 of modest means may chill civil rights litigation that is important to the legal system.” Mot. at 2. 3 Ms. Zayas also asks the Court to take into account that her claim was not frivolous. 4 The Court DENIES Ms. Zayas’s motion. The Court is not unsympathetic to Ms. Zayas’s 5 financial circumstances. Moreover, if this was simply a situation where Ms. Zayas’s motion was, 6 in effect, just a late objection to the bill of costs or amended bill of costs, the Court might view 7 Ms. Zayas’s motion for relief differently (although the Court recognizes the legitimate points 8 made in Konig v. Dal Cerro, No. C 04-02210 WHA, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91228, at *5-6 (N.D. 9 Cal. Oct. 16, 2008) (holding that “plaintiff effectively waived her right to challenge costs because she did not file objections”; adding that, “if the failure to file objections does not operate as a 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 waiver to challenge costs, then Civil Local Rule 54-2 [which sets a deadline for filing] is 12 essentially rendered nugatory” and there would be a burden on both the district judges and the 13 Clerk of the Court)). However, here, the Court is confronted with a situation where (as required 14 by Civil Local Rule 54-2(b)) the parties met and conferred regarding Officer Ortega’s bill of costs, 15 where Ms. Zayas never claimed financial inability to pay as a basis to reduce or dispose of costs, 16 and where Officer Ortega agreed to lower his original bill of costs to resolve their dispute (thus 17 resulting in the amended bill of costs). In such a situation, there is no doubt that Ms. Zayas 18 waived her ability to challenge costs. As Officer Ortega argues, allowing a party to make 19 “arguments in installations” is patently unreasonable. Opp’n at 4. 20 Ms. Zayas’s arguments in her reply brief are unavailing. While Civil Local Rule 54-3 21 addresses standards for taxing costs (e.g., regarding filing and service of process fees, reporters’ 22 transcripts, etc.), that does not mean that the meet and confer required by Civil Local Rule 54-2 is 23 limited to a discussion of those standards only. Nothing in the text of the rule dictates such a 24 limitation. See Civ. L. R. 54-2(b) (providing that objections to the bill of costs “must contain a 25 representation that counsel met and conferred in an attempt to resolve disagreement about the 26 taxable costs claimed in the bill”). Likewise, even if the Clerk of the Court “has no power to 27 entertain an objection based upon . . . indigency and any other equitable factors under the law,” 28 Reply at 2, that does not excuse Ms. Zayas from having a full meet and confer with Officer Ortega 2 1 as to why costs should not be taxed, particularly in light of the availability of relief from the Court 2 due to financial circumstances. 3 This order disposes of Docket No. 140. 4 5 IT IS SO ORDERED. 6 7 Dated: January 28, 2019 8 9 10 ______________________________________ EDWARD M. CHEN United States District Judge United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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