Kapral v. Geico Indemnity Company
ORDER: Defendant GEICO Indemnity Company's Motion to Tax Costs 276 is GRANTED in part. The Clerk is directed to enter a Bill of Costs in the amount of $8,992.03 in Defendant GEICO Indemnity Company's favor and against Plaintiff Cory Kapral. Signed by Judge James S. Moody, Jr. on 3/22/2017. (LN)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
CORY R. KAPRAL,
Case No: 8:13-cv-2967-T-36AAS
GEICO INDEMNITY COMPANY,
THIS CAUSE comes before the Court on Defendant GEICO Indemnity Company's
Motion to Tax Costs (Doc. 276), and Plaintiff Cory Kapral's Response (Doc. 278). Having
reviewed the Motion and supporting documents, the Response, and being otherwise fully
advised in the premises, the Court concludes the Motion should be granted in part.
In 2008, Plaintiff was involved in an auto accident with a third party. The third party
made a claim on Plaintiff’s insurance policy with Defendant for the policy limits, which
Defendant rejected. The third party sued Plaintiff in state court, and a jury returned an
excess verdict against Plaintiff in favor of the third party in 2012.
After resolution of the underlying case, Plaintiff sued Defendant in this Court for
bad faith claim handling. Plaintiff’s claims centered on two things: (1) whether Defendant
breached its duty to defend Plaintiff in the underlying case; and (2) whether Defendant
acted in bad faith by, among other things, not accepting the third party’s offer to settle
within the policy limits in the underlying case. The case proceeded to trial, where the Court
directed verdict in favor of Defendant on the duty to defend issue (Doc. 237), and the jury
returned a verdict in favor of Defendant on the bad faith claim handling issue (Doc. 245).
STANDARD FOR AWARDING COSTS
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) prescribes an award of costs for a
prevailing party unless a federal statute, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or a court
order provides otherwise. See Durden v. Citicorp Trust Bank, FSB, No. 3:07-cv-974-J34JRK, 2010 WL 2105921, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 26, 2010) (stating that Rule 54 establishes
a presumption that costs should be awarded unless the district court decides otherwise
(citing Chapman v. Al Transp., 229 F.3d 1012, 1038 (11th Cir. 2000))). A strong
presumption exists in favor of awarding costs. See Durden, 2010 WL 2105921, at *1; see
also Arcadian Fertilizer, L.P. v. MPW Indus. Servs., Inc., 249 F.3d 1293, 1296 (11th Cir.
2001). The district court’s discretion in not awarding all costs is limited; the district court
must articulate a sound reason for not awarding full costs. See Chapman, 229 F.3d at 103839; Durden, 2010 WL 2105921, at *1. “However, a court may only tax costs as authorized
by statute.” E.E.O.C. v. W & O, Inc., 213 F.3d 600, 620 (11th Cir. 2000). Specifically,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 1920, the following may be taxed as costs:
(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;
(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily
obtained for use in the case;
(3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;
(4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials
where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case;
(5) Docket fees under [28 U.S.C. § 1923]; [and]
(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters,
and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services
under [28 U.S.C. § 1828].
See generally Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 441–42 (1987),
superseded on other grounds by 42 U.S.C. § 1988(c) (finding that 28 U.S.C. § 1920 defines
the term “costs” as used in Rule 54(d) and enumerates the expenses that a federal court
may tax as a cost under the discretionary authority granted in Rule 54(d)). The party
seeking an award of costs or expenses bears the burden of submitting a request that enables
a court to determine what costs or expenses were incurred by the party and the party’s
entitlement to an award of those costs or expenses. Loranger v. Stierheim, 10 F.3d 776,
784 (11th Cir. 1994).
Defendant seeks reimbursement for $12,982.66 in costs, which includes (1) $465.00
for the costs to serve subpoenas; (2) $433.24 for the costs of witness fees; (3) $7,404.43
for the costs of deposition and hearing transcripts; and (4) $4,679.99 for the costs of copies
of materials necessarily obtained for use in this case. Plaintiff does not object to the costs
in the first or second categories. As such, the Court will award those costs. The costs in the
remaining categories will be discussed below.
1. Costs of Deposition and Hearing Transcripts
Defendant seeks reimbursement of $7,404.43 for cost of deposition and hearing
transcripts. These include transcripts of the following depositions: (1) Scott Allen Jones,
an employee of Defendant; (2) Theodore Eastmoore, Esq., counsel for Plaintiff in the
underlying action; (3) Pam Beitlich, the plaintiff in the underlying action; (4) Cory Kapral,
Plaintiff in this action; (5) Byron Wobeter, an employee of Defendant; (6) A. James Rolfes,
of Dickinson & Gibbons, P.A.; (7) Peter Knowe, Plaintiff’s expert witness; (8) Geoffrey
K. Nichols, Esq., another counsel for Plaintiff in the underlying action; and (9) Kathy
Maus, Esq., Defendant’s expert witness. The costs also includes the $97.29 cost for a
transcript on a motion in limine hearing, which Plaintiff concedes is taxable.
Generally, section 1920(2) authorizes taxation of costs for deposition transcripts
“necessarily obtained for use in the case.” 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2); see also Maris Distrib. Co.
v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 302 F.3d 1207, 1225 (11th Cir. 2002). Costs for transcripts of
depositions conducted in support of a motion for summary judgment or depositions
conducted of witnesses listed on a party’s witness list are exemplary of the types of costs
recoverable under § 1920(2). See, e.g., Family Oriented Cmty. United Strong, Inc. v.
Lockheed Martin Corp., No. 8:11-cv-217-T-30AEP, 2012 WL 6575348, at *1 (M.D. Fla.
Dec. 17, 2012). However, “where the deposition costs were merely incurred for
convenience, to aid in thorough preparation, or for purposes of investigation only, the costs
are not recoverable.” W & O, Inc., 213 F.3d at 621.
Plaintiff concedes that a portion of the cost for the transcript of Mr. Eastmoore is
recoverable. But Plaintiff argues that none of the other transcript costs are recoverable
because Defendant failed to meet its burden of establishing that the transcripts were
“necessarily obtained for use in this case.”
The Court disagrees with both Plaintiff and Defendant’s cost calculations. This
Court has previously held that costs of obtaining transcripts of deposition of persons listed
on the losing party’s witness list are recoverable. Family Oriented Cmty. United Strong,
Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., No. 8:11-CV-217-T-30AEP, 2012 WL 6575348, at *1
(M.D. Fla. Dec. 17, 2012) (citing Burns v. City of Cape Coral, 2012 WL 5381944, *2
(M.D. Fla. Nov. 1, 2012) and EEOC v. W & O, Inc., 213 F.3d 600, 620–21 (11th Cir.
2000)). Here, Mr. Jones, Mr. Eastmoore, Ms. Beitlich, Mr. Kapral, Mr. Wobeter, Mr. Rolfe,
Mr. Knowe, and Mr. Nichols are all listed on Plaintiff’s witness list. So the Court concludes
some costs associated with those transcripts are available.
The Court also concludes the copy of the deposition of Defendant’s expert, Ms.
Maus, is recoverable. Ms. Maus testified extensively at trial on her opinions regarding
whether Defendant acted in bad faith and why. These issues went to the heart of Plaintiff’s
claim, and Plaintiff undertook great effort to impeach Ms. Maus on cross-examination. The
Court, therefore, is satisfied that the transcript was necessarily obtained for use in this case
since the parties knew Ms. Maus’s opinion was highly relevant to Plaintiff’s claims and
would be subject to attack on cross-examination.
While the Court concludes that all of the transcripts for which Defendant seeks
reimbursement were necessarily obtained for use in this case, not all of the costs are
recoverable. Defendant seeks reimbursement for multiple copies of each of the transcripts,
such as digital copies or condensed copies. The Court concludes these additional copies
were merely incurred for convenience and are not recoverable. Specifically, the Court finds
the following amounts to be recoverable for each of the transcripts requested:
A. James Rolfes
Digital Transcript: $30; and
Condensed Transcript: $16
Plaintiff concedes Defendant can
recover $2,170.70 in costs for this
transcript, which the Court accepts
Appearance Fees: $153;
Digital Transcript: $30;
Condensed Transcript: $16; and
Shipping and Travel: $90.25 1
Video: $317.50; and
Digital Transcript: $25;
Condensed Transcript: $16;
Video Conference Site: $135; and
Appearance Fees: $243;
Digital Transcript: $30;
Condensed Transcript: $16; and
Shipping and Travel: $54.65
Appearance Fees: $213;
Digital Transcript: $30;
Condensed Transcript: $16;
CD-ROM: $175; and
Shipping and Travel: $37.57
Litigation Package: $55; and
Based on the above, the Court concludes Defendant can recover $6,215.90 for transcripts,
including the deposition transcripts and motion in limine hearing transcript.
See Error! Main Document Only.Watson v. Lake Cnty., 492 Fed. App’x 991, 997 (11th
Cir. 2012) (finding that a district court abused its discretion by taxing costs for shipment and
binding of depositions because “§ 1920 does not authorize recovery of costs for shipment of
depositions or costs for binders, tabs, and technical labor”).
2. Costs of Copies of Materials Necessarily Obtained for Use in This Case
Defendant requests reimbursement of $4,679.99 for copies of materials it says were
necessarily obtained for use in this case. Those materials consist of (1) trial exhibits; (2)
deposition exhibits; (3) exhibits and case law for motion in limine hearing; (4) notebooks
for both counsel and court for pretrial hearing, including all trial exhibits and outstanding
motions; (5) documents and exhibits for trial that was continued based on Plaintiff’s
emergency; (6) additional documents and exhibits for trial.
Typically, “‘[c]opies attributable to discovery, copies of pleadings, correspondence,
documents tendered to the opposing party, copies of exhibits, and documents prepared for
the Court’s consideration are recoverable.’” Gordon v. Beary, No. 6:08-cv-73-Orl-36KRS,
2012 WL 3291699, at *2 (M.D. Fla. July 27, 2012) (quoting Desisto Coll., Inc. v. Town of
Howey-in-the-Hills, 718 F. Supp. 906, 913 (M.D. Fla. 1989)). On the other hand, “[c]opies
obtained for the convenience of counsel, including extra copies of filed papers,
correspondence, and copies of cases, are not taxable.” Id. The taxing party must provide
adequate documentation and description regarding the necessity of the cost for a fee to be
compensable. See Scelta v. Delicatessen Support Servs., Inc., 203 F. Supp. 2d 1328, 1340
(M.D. Fla. 2002).
The Court concludes Defendant has not provided adequate documentation to collect
all of the fees it seeks. Certainly, Defendant can recover the costs of one copy of the trial
exhibits. But Defendant attempts to recover those costs several times, which is
impermissible. Defendant has also not shown what exhibits and documents were copied
for the depositions, so the Court is unable to determine whether Defendant printed multiple
copies of the same documents or new documents for each deposition. The Court can only
find sufficient evidence to support an award of costs for copies necessarily obtained for use
in this case totaling $1,877.89. 2
Accordingly, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that:
Defendant GEICO Indemnity Company's Motion to Tax Costs (Doc. 276) is
GRANTED in part.
The Clerk is directed to enter a Bill of Costs in the amount of $8,992.03 in
Defendant GEICO Indemnity Company’s favor and against Plaintiff Cory
DONE and ORDERED in Tampa, Florida, this 22nd day of March, 2017.
Copies furnished to:
Counsel/Parties of Record
This includes the following items in Doc. 276-2, pages 4 through 6: Trial Exhibits:
$123.63; 3/16/15 deposition preparation of 2,650 pages: $371; 1/12/16 exhibits and case law for
hearing on motions in limine and motion for summary judgment: $132.86; 7/14/16 documents and
exhibits for trial: $1,235.42; and 12/13/16 additional documents and exhibits for trial: $14.98.
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