Lam et al v. Newsom et al

Filing 226

ORDER granting in part and denying in part motion to review taxation of costs. Signed by Judge Hamilton on 5/19/2016. (pjhlc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/19/2016)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 ALFRED LAM, et al., 9 10 11 Case No. 10-cv-04641-PJH Plaintiffs, 8 v. THE CITY & COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, et al., ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO REVIEW TAXATION OF COSTS United States District Court Northern District of California Defendants. 12 13 14 Before the court is plaintiff’s motion to review the taxation of costs. Having read 15 the parties’ papers and carefully considered their arguments and the relevant legal 16 authority, and good cause appearing, the court hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in 17 part plaintiff’s motion, as follows. 18 BACKGROUND 19 On March 7, 2016, the court entered an order granting defendant’s motion for 20 summary judgment. On March 14, 2016, defendant filed a bill of costs, seeking 21 reimbursement of $22,334.76. Plaintiffs filed objections on March 28, 2016, and on April 22 14, 2016, the Clerk of Court reduced defendant’s requested costs by a total of $2,040.71, 23 and taxed costs against plaintiffs in the amount of $20,294.05. 24 On April 21, 2016, plaintiffs filed a document entitled “notice of motion and motion 25 objections to defendants’ bill of cost,” which the court construed as a motion to review 26 taxation of costs, and for which the court set a briefing schedule. Defendant has now 27 filed its opposition brief, and plaintiffs have filed a reply brief. 28 DISCUSSION 1 2 A. Legal Standard “Unless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs – 3 4 other than attorney's fees – should be allowed to the prevailing party.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 5 54(d). The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted Rule 54(d) as “codif[ying] a venerable 6 presumption that prevailing parties are entitled to costs.” Marx v. General Revenue 7 Corp., 133 S.Ct. 1166, 1172 (2013); see also Amarel v. Connell, 102 F.3d 1494, 1523 8 (9th Cir. 1997). The use of the word “should” in Rule 54(d) “makes clear that the decision 9 whether to award costs ultimately lies within the sound discretion of the district court.” 10 Marx, 133 S.Ct. at 1172-73. The losing party has the burden of overcoming the presumption by affirmatively United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 showing that the prevailing party is not entitled to costs. See Save Our Valley v. Sound 13 Transit, 335 F.3d 932, 944-45 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Stanley v. University of So. Cal., 178 14 F.3d 1069, 1079 (9th Cir. 1999)). Generally, only misconduct “worthy of a penalty,” an 15 insignificant or nominal recovery, or the losing party’s indigency will suffice. Association 16 of Mexican-American Educators v. State of Cal., 231 F.3d 572, 591-92 (9th Cir. 2000) (en 17 banc); see also Save Our Valley, 335 F.3d at 945 (Ninth Circuit has in past decisions 18 considered factors including the losing party’s limited financial resources, misconduct on 19 the part of the prevailing party, the importance and complexity of the issues, the merit of 20 the plaintiff’s case, and the chilling effect on future civil rights litigants of imposing high 21 costs). 22 If the district court wishes to depart from the presumption in favor of awarding 23 costs, it must “specify reasons” for doing so by explaining “why a case is not ‘ordinary’ 24 and why, in the circumstances, it would be inappropriate or inequitable to award costs.” 25 Mexican-American Educators, 231 F.3d at 591-93. Although a district court must 26 “‘specify reasons’ for its refusal to tax costs to the losing party,” a court need not specify 27 reasons for its “decision to abide the presumption and tax costs to the losing party.” 28 Save Our Valley, 335 F.3d at 945 (citing Association of Mexican-American Educators, 2 1 231 F.3d at 591) (“The presumption itself provides all the reason a court needs for 2 awarding costs, and when a district court states no reason for awarding costs, [the 3 reviewing court] will assume it acted based on that presumption.”). District courts may consider a variety of factors in determining whether to exercise 4 5 their discretion to deny costs to the prevailing party. Association of Mexican-American 6 Educators, 231 F.3d at 592-93. A court abuses its discretion by awarding costs only in 7 the “rare occasion” where “severe injustice will result from an award of costs,” and the 8 court does not conclude that the presumption in favor of awarding costs has been 9 rebutted. Save Our Valley, 335 F.3d at 945. 10 B. Legal Analysis United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Plaintiffs’ motion largely makes the same arguments that were raised in their 12 objections to defendant’s bill of costs. The arguments are, in large part, very generalized 13 – arguing that the court should exercise its discretion to not award costs, arguing that 14 defendants have unclean hands, and arguing that large portions of the depositions were 15 dominated by defendants’ counsel’s objections. Plaintiffs do present a list of specific 16 reasons for granting their motion: “(a) only reasonable costs may be recovered and this 17 court has the discretion to refuse or apportion costs as appropriate, (b) any of 18 defendants’ improper claims for expedited service of process fees should be denied, (c) 19 defendants’ excessive claims for transcript costs should be denied, and (d) defendants’ 20 excessive claims for photocopying should be denied.” Finally, plaintiffs argue that a costs 21 award would impose a hardship on them. 22 In general, the court finds that plaintiffs’ arguments do not overcome the 23 presumption that the prevailing party is entitled to costs. A number of plaintiffs’ 24 arguments are conclusory – for instance, that defendants have unclean hands – and the 25 others simply fail to meet the standard of showing that defendant has engaged in 26 misconduct “worthy of a penalty.” However, there is one category of costs that are not 27 warranted. 28 The case law in this district is fairly clear that “costs for expedited transcripts are 3 1 not recoverab ble.” Apple Inc. v. Sam msung Elec ctronics Co. Ltd., 2014 WL 47459 (N.D. ., 4 933 2 Ca Sept. 19, 2014); see also Hest al. , e terberg v. U United State 75 F.Su es, upp.3d 1220 1225 0, 3 (N.D. Cal. 201 (“It is we establish in this d 14 ell hed district that ‘expedited delivery ch harges for 4 deposition tra anscripts are not allowa e able’”); City of Alamed v. Nuvee 2012 W 177566 y da en, WL 5 (N.D. Cal. Jan 23, 2012). Included within the bill of costs is a total of $5,316.2 for n. d s 27 6 exp pedited dep position transcripts1, and under th law of th district, t court fin that a he his the nds 7 the costs are not recoverable. Accordingly, plaintiffs’ m ese A motion to re eview the ta axation of 8 cos is GRAN sts NTED to the extent tha it seeks t reduce the costs aw at to ward to rem move the 9 exp pedited tran nscript cost but DEN ts, NIED on all other groun nds. CONCLU USION 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 For the foregoing reasons, plaintiffs’ mo e p otion to rev view the tax xation of cos is sts 12 GR RANTED in part and DENIED in part. The c D p costs award for transcripts sha be ded all 13 red duced by $5 5,316.27, re esulting in a total costs award to defendant in the amount of 14 $14,977.78. IT IS SO ORDER S RED. 15 16 Da ated: May 19, 2016 1 __ __________ __________ __________ _______ PH HYLLIS J. H HAMILTON Un nited States District Ju s udge 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 This figure in T ncludes $68 87.06 for th expedite transcript of the dep he ed position of J John Ra adogno, $50 01.93 for th expedited transcript of the dep he d t position of D Dennis Doy $513.81 yle, 1 for the expedited transcr of the deposition o Mildred S r ript of Singh, $457 7.38 for the expedited transcript of th depositio of Toni Ratcliff-Pow he on R well, $798.9 for the e 93 expedited tr ranscript of the deposition of Greg Foote, $308.88 for the expedited t e n F transcript o the depos of sition of Ch hristopher Baldwin, $50 B 07.87 for th expedite transcript of the dep he ed position of R Robert Taylor, $310.8 for the expedited tr 86 e ranscript of the deposi f ition of Tam mara Ratclif $310.00 ff, for the expedited transcr of the deposition o Allen Nan r ript of nce, and $9 919.55 for th he exp pedited tran nscript of th depositio of Luis R he on Recinos. See Dkt. 209 Ex. B. 9, 4

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