Buchanan et al v. Oakland, County of, et al.
ORDER denying 85 Motion for Attorney Fees; granting 94 Motion to Review Clerk's Denial of Bill of Costs. Signed by District Judge John Corbett O'Meara. (WBar)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JOHN BUCHANAN, et al.,
Case No. 12-13666
Hon. John Corbett O’Meara
OAKLAND COUNTY, et al.,
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR
ATTORNEY’S FEES AND GRANTING MOTION FOR COSTS
Before the court are Defendants’ motions for attorney’s fees and for costs,
which have been fully briefed. The court granted summary judgment in favor of
Defendants on March 6, 2014. Defendants now seek attorney’s fees pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1988 and 28 U.S.C. § 1927, as well as costs pursuant to Federal Rule of
Federal Procedure 54(d)(1).
A prevailing defendant in an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
may recover attorney fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. However, “[a]n award of
attorney’s fees against a losing plaintiff in a civil rights action is an extreme
sanction, and must be limited to truly egregious cases of misconduct.” Jones v.
Continental Corp., 789 F.2d 1225, 1232 (6th Cir. 1986). A “plaintiff should not be
assessed his opponent’s attorney’s fees unless a court finds that his claim was
frivolous, unreasonable or groundless.” Id. (quoting Christianburg Garment Co. v.
EEOC, 434 U.S. 412, 422 (1978)).
The court may also award attorney fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927 against
an attorney “who so multiplies the proceedings in any case unreasonably and
vexatiously.” Id. Sanctions are appropriate under this provision against counsel
who “knows or reasonably should know that a claim pursued is frivolous, or that
his or her litigation tactics will needlessly obstruct the litigation of nonfrivolous
claims.” Jones, 789 F.2d at 1230.
Although the court ultimately found Plaintiffs’ claims to be meritless, it does
not find them to be frivolous, nor does it find that Plaintiffs’ counsel engaged in
unreasonable or vexatious litigation tactics. Indeed, Plaintiffs survived
Defendants’ motion to dismiss and the court ruled that Plaintiffs’ complaint was
not frivolous at the outset. As the Supreme Court has exhorted, the court will
“resist the understandable temptation to engage in post hoc reasoning by
concluding that, because a plaintiff did not ultimately prevail, his action must have
been unreasonable or without foundation.” Christianburg, 434 U.S. at 421. This
case does not present a “truly egregious case of misconduct” warranting sanctions
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 or 28 U.S.C. § 1927.
As the prevailing party, Defendants also seek costs in the amount of
$2,096.40 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1). Defendants
submitted a bill of costs to the Clerk of the Court, which was rejected because it
did not include supporting invoices. Defendants seek costs associated with the
deposition transcripts of John Buchanan, Lawrence Rutka, and Denise Blair
(Matteson), portions of which were used to support Defendants’ motion for
involuntary dismissal and motion for summary judgment. Docket Nos. 50, 53.
Defendants have corrected the original defect and have supplied invoices for those
transcripts. The court finds that these deposition transcripts were reasonably
necessary for this litigation and are therefore taxable. See Sales v. Marshall, 873
F.2d 115, 120 (6th Cir. 1989) (“Ordinarily, the costs of taking and transcribing
depositions reasonably necessary for the litigation are allowed to the prevailing
party. Necessity is determined as of the time of taking, and the fact that a
deposition is not actually used at trial is not controlling.”).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ motion to review clerk’s
denial of Defendants’ bill of costs is GRANTED and that costs are awarded against
Plaintiffs, jointly and severally, and in favor of Defendants in the amount of
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees is
s/John Corbett O’Meara
United States District Judge
Date: June 24, 2014
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon
counsel of record on this date, June 24, 2014, using the ECF system.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?