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Branch v. Umphenour

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 29, 2017

LOUIS BRANCH, Plaintiff,
v.
D. UMPHENOUR, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER RE BILL OF COSTS (ECF NOS. 319, 321, 322, 329)

         I.

         BACKGROUND

         On January 30, 2017, this action proceeded to a jury trial on Plaintiff's claim that Defendants Umphenour, Szalai, and Alvarez failed to protect him in violation of the Eighth Amendment and that Defendant Umphenour retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment. On January 31, 2017, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants Umphenour, Szalai, and Alvarez on all claims. Judgment was entered against Plaintiff and for Defendants Umphenour, Szalai, and Alvarez on February 1, 2017. On February 6, 2017, Defendants Umphenour, Szalai, and Alvarez filed a bill of costs. After receiving an extension of time to file an opposition to the bill of costs, Plaintiff filed his opposition entitled “Motion for the Parties to Bear Their Own Costs” on March 22, 2017.

         II.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “costs--other than attorney's fees--should be allowed to the prevailing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). Rule 54 creates “a presumption for awarding costs to prevailing parties; the losing party must show why costs should not be awarded.” Draper v. Rosario, 836 F.3d 1072, 1087 (9th Cir. 2016) (quoting Save Our Valley v. Sound Transit, 335 F.3d 932, 944-45 (9th Cir. 2003)). In deciding whether to exercise discretion to refuse to award costs, the district court should consider appropriate reasons to deny costs such as “(1) the substantial public importance of the case, (2) the closeness and difficulty of the issues in the case, (3) the chilling effect on future similar actions, (4) the plaintiff's limited financial resources, and (5) the economic disparity between the parties.” Draper, 836 F.3d at 1087 (quoting Escriba v. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc., 743 F.3d 1236, 1247-48 (9th Cir. 2014)). This list is not exhaustive, but is a starting point for the analysis. Draper, 836 F.3d at 1087.

         III.

         DISCUSSION

         The jury found for Defendants Umphenour, Szalai, and Alvarez in this action. Therefore, Defendants Umphenour, Szalai, and Alvarez are the prevailing parties in this action and the presumption to award costs has arisen. Defendants Umphenour, Szalai, and Alvarez seek costs for Plaintiff's deposition and copying fees which are taxable costs under 28 U.S.C. § 1920. At the time that Plaintiff's deposition was taken it could reasonably have been expected to be used in the trial of this action. Defendants have demonstrated that the costs for copying documents were necessarily obtained for use in this action and are seeking a reimbursement at a reasonable rate. The Court finds that the costs for which Defendants seek reimbursement were necessarily obtained for use in the action.

         Accordingly, the burden shifts to Plaintiff to rebut the presumption to award costs to the prevailing party by showing reasons to deny costs.

         III.

         DISCUSSION

         Defendants are seeking costs of $2, 182.00 for fees for transcripts and copies necessarily obtained for use in the case. Plaintiff does not address the factors to be considered in deciding whether to deviate from the presumption to award costs, but contends that he acted in good faith by paying the filing fee and diligently attempted to obey the orders issued in this action. Further, Plaintiff argues that Defendants engaged in misconduct that would subject them to sanctions. Plaintiff seeks to have the parties each bear their own costs.

         A. ...


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