Trotta v. Cajun Conti LLC et al
ORDER AND REASONS denying 82 Motion Requesting Review of Taxation of Costs. Signed by Judge Sarah S. Vance. (cml)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
CAJUN CONTI LLC
SECTION “R” (2)
ORDER AND REASONS
Plaintiff Joseph Trotta moves the Court for a review of the Clerk’s
taxation of costs in favor of defendants Cajun Conti, LLC, and Cajun
For the following reasons, the Court denies plaintiff’s
Plaintiff Trotta worked at two restaurants owned by defendants in New
Orleans, Louisiana.2 On August 3, 2014, Defendants terminated Trotta’s
employment. 3 On April 14, 2015, Trotta filed suit alleging that he was fired
in retaliation for protected activity in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. More specifically, Trotta
R. Doc. 82.
For a more in-depth discussion of the facts underlying this case,
see generally R. Doc. 67.
R. Doc. 67 at 2.
alleged that he was fired for giving a statement to the EEOC regarding
defendants’ termination of another employee. 4
On January 13, 2017, the Court granted defendants’ motion for
summary judgment because Trotta failed to establish a prima facie case of
retaliation. Trotta v. Cajun Conti, LLC, No. 15-1186, 2017 WL 131551 (E.D.
La. Jan. 13, 2017). On May 26, 2017, the Chief Deputy Clerk issued a taxation
of costs in the amount of $3,233.85 against Trotta pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 54(d). 5 Plaintiff now moves the Court for a review of the
taxation of costs. 6
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) states that “[u]nless a federal
statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs . . . should be
allowed to the prevailing party.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d). “A district court has
wide discretion whether to award costs to the prevailing party.” Energy
Mgmt. Corp. v. City of Shreveport, 467 F.3d 471, 483 (5th Cir. 2006)
(citations omitted). On motion and within seven days of the taxation of costs,
the Clerk’s action may be reviewed by this Court. Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d). But
Id. at 3.
R. Doc. 80.
R. Doc. 82. Defendants did not file a response in opposition.
there is a “strong presumption” contained in Rule 54 that the prevailing party
will be awarded costs. Pacheco v. Mineta, 448 F.3d 783, 793 (5th Cir. 2006).
Defendants are the prevailing party in this case. The Fifth Circuit has
identified the following circumstances which, if present, may justify denial
of costs to the prevailing party: “(1) the losing party’s limited financial
resources; (2) misconduct by the prevailing party; (3) close and difficult legal
issues presented; (4) substantial benefit conferred on the public; and (5) the
prevailing party’s enormous financial resources.” Pacheco, 448 F.3d at 794.
An additional factor the Fifth Circuit considers is whether “the losing party
prosecuted the action in good faith.” Id. But good faith may not be the sole
reason for denying costs to the prevailing party. Id. at 795.
Applying the Pacheco factors, the court finds that Trotta has not
rebutted Rule 54(d)’s strong presumption that defendants should be
awarded costs. Although the Court recognized that Trotta brought his claims
in good faith in its order denying defendants an award of attorney’s fees, see
Trotta v. Cajun Conti, No. 15-1186, 2017 WL 785310, at *2 (E.D. La. Mar. 1,
2017), good faith alone does not warrant a denial of taxation of costs. See
Pacheco, 448 F.3d at 794-95 (noting that good faith alone is not sufficient to
deny costs because “[i]f the awarding of costs could be thwarted every time
the unsuccessful party is a normal, average party and not a knave, Rule
54(d)(1) would have little substance remaining”) (citation omitted).
Likewise, Trotta’s limited financial resources, in addition to proceeding in
good faith, is not enough to defeat Rule 54’s presumption. See id. at 794
(stating that good faith and one other factor may not be enough to deny
costs); U.S. ex rel. Long v. GSDMIdea City, L.L.C., 807 F.3d 125, 129 (“[W]e
have never held that the limited resources of the losing party provides a basis
for denying the prevailing party its costs.”) (internal quotation and citation
omitted); Moore v. Citgo Ref. and Chem. Co., L.P., 735 F.3d 309, 320 (5th
Cir. 2013) (holding that awarding costs based on the comparison of the
parties’ finances “would not only undermine the presumption that Rule
54(d)(1) creates in prevailing parties’ favor, but it would also undermine the
foundation of the legal system that justice is administered to all equally,
regardless of wealth or status”) (quoting Cherry v. Champion Int’l Corp., 186
F.3d 442, 448 (4th Cir. 1999)); see also Patterson v. Celadon Trucking
Servs., Inc. No. 09-1, 2010 WL 1424288, at *2 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 2010). 7
In any event, to the extent that a comparison of the parties’
finances is relevant, Trotta’s reliance on Chenevert v. Cleco Corp., No. 111707, 2013 WL 4648292 (W.D. La. Aug. 28, 2013), is unavailing. Costs were
not taxed against the losing party in Chenevert in part because the prevailing
Finally, Trotta relies on Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC, 434
U.S. 412 (1978), to contend that imposing costs against unsuccessful Title VII
plaintiffs could discourage potential litigants with meritorious claims from
pursuing civil rights actions. 8
Christiansburg dealt specifically with
attorneys’ fees, and has not been extended to taxation of costs.
Washington v. Patlis, 916 F.2d 1036, 1040 (5th Cir. 1990) (“Title VII does
not make an exception to the general rule that federal courts may award costs
to the prevailing party under Rule 54(d).”). Accordingly, the Clerk’s taxation
of costs will not be vacated against the defendants.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES plaintiff’s motion.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this _____ day of July, 2017.
SARAH S. VANCE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
party was a company with “enormous financial resources” in excess of
$100m. Id., at *2. That is not the case with defendants here.
R. Doc. 82-1 at 3.
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