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Maria Escriba v. Foster Poultry Farms

January 20, 2012

MARIA ESCRIBA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FOSTER POULTRY FARMS, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lawrence J. O'Neill United States District Judge

ORDER ON MOTION FOR REVIEW OF CLERK'S TAXATION OF COSTS (DOC 249)

I. INTRODUCTION.*fn1

Maria Escriba ("Plaintiff") moves this Court to review the clerk's taxation of costs. Plaintiff asserts that Foster Poultry Farms' ("Defendant") costs in the amount of $13,958.16 should be denied. Plaintiff contends that this case meets the Ninth Circuit standard for denial because (1) the case involved issues of substantial public importance, (2) Plaintiff has limited resources, (3) there is great economic disparity between Plaintiff and Defendant, (4) the issues were close and difficult, and (5) awarding costs here would have a chilling effect on future, meritful FMLA/CFRA litigation. Alternatively, Plaintiff requests the costs be further reduced.

Defendant opposes the motion.

II. BACKGROUND.

This wrongful termination in violation of FMLA/CFRA action was tried before a jury starting July 13, 2011 after cross motions for summary judgment were denied. ECF Nos. 98, 186.

On July 21, 2011, before the case was submitted to the jury, both parties filed motions for judgment as a matter of law ("JMOL"). ECF Nos. 197, 198. The motions were denied.

On July 22, 2011, the jury returned a verdict in favor of defendant. ECF No. 208. Plaintiff filed her Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and Motion to Amend the Judgment on August 19, 2011. ECF No. 221. On September 29, 2011, the Court denied Plaintiff's JMOL and granted Plaintiff's Motion to Amend, naming her prevailing party on her unpaid wages claim.

ECF No. 241.

Defendant filed its Bill of Costs on August 16, 2011, seeking $21,703.31. ECF No. 220.

On August 22, 2011, Plaintiff filed objections, arguing that costs should be denied or that they should be reduced by $14,003.31. ECF No. 222. On October 13, 2011, the clerk taxed costs in the amount of $13,958.16. ECF No. 248.

III. STANDARD OF DECISION.

A district court reviews the clerk's taxation of costs de novo. Rivera v. NIBCO, 701 F. Supp. 2d 1135, 1137 (E.D. Cal. 2010) (citing, Lopez v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 385 F. Supp. 2d 981, 1000--1001 (N.D. Cal. 2005)). A district court is not bound by the record nor required to show any deference to the Clerk's conclusions. See Sea Coast Foods, Inc. v. Lu-Mar Lobster and Shrimp, Inc., 260 F.3d 1054, 1058 (9th Cir. 2001).

IV. DISCUSSION.

Plaintiff argues that the Court should exercise its discretion and deny all costs because Plaintiff has limited financial resources, there is great financial disparity between the parties, the issues in this case were of substantial public importance, the issues were close and difficult, and awarding costs would have a chilling effect on future, low-wage earner litigants asserting wrongful termination in violation of FMLA.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1) states: "Unless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs-other than attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing party ..."

The types of costs that may be awarded under Rule 54(d) are limited to those enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 441-442 (1987). ...


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