United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER RE BILL OF COSTS RE: DKT. NOS. 781-82
DONATO United States District Judge.
plaintiffs Adil and Roda Hiramanek object to the costs taxed
against them as the losing parties. Dkt. No. 782. This action
has traveled a long and troubled course through more than 800
individual docket entries and the courtrooms of several
district and magistrate judges. It involved a multiplicity of
claims against California state courts and employees, all of
which have now been stricken, dismissed or adjudicated
against the Hiramaneks. As Judge Whyte, who previously
oversaw this matter, found in a similar case brought by Adil
Hiramanek, resolution of the claims alleged here required the
court and defendants “to expend excessive resources,
” and the lawsuit as a whole was “harassing and
largely frivolous.” Hiramanek v. California
Judicial Council, No. 15-cv-4377-RMW, 2016 WL 6427870,
at *8 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 31, 2016). For this and other
misconduct, the Hiramaneks have been declared vexatious
litigants in this district and in California state court.
Id. at *8-9; Dkt. No. 769.
the prevailing defendants agreed to bear their own
attorneys' fees and costs upon dismissal. See,
e.g., Dkt. No. 802. Defendants Beth Miller and the Santa
Clara Superior Court did not, and they filed a bill of costs
seeking to recover $14, 058.01 from the Hiramaneks. Dkt. No.
761. The Clerk of the Court taxed costs in the amount of $9,
130.99 after disallowing a portion of the claim for
transcripts under Civil Local Rule 54-3(c). Dkt. No. 781.
Virtually all of the taxed costs are for transcript fees save
for $394.21 in subpoena fees. Id.
the reduction in allowed costs, the Hiramaneks filed almost
100 pages of objections. Dkt. No. 782. In overwhelming part,
these objections are vituperative attacks on judges and court
personnel that have nothing at all to do with the propriety
of the taxed costs. The Court strikes all of the pejorative
comments in the objections and attached declaration.
what little remains on the merits, the Hiramaneks do not
offer any facts or case law that disturb the clerk's cost
award. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) provides that
“[u]nless a federal statute, these rules, or a court
order provides otherwise, costs -- other than attorney's
fees -- should be allowed to the prevailing party.”
See also Civil Local Rule 54-3. As this plain
language indicates, “Rule 54(d) creates a presumption
for awarding costs to prevailing parties; the losing party
must show why costs should not be awarded.” Save
Our Valley v. Sound Transit, 335 F.3d 932, 944-45 (9th
Cir. 2003). Because of this presumption, the district court
need not give any affirmative reason or explanation for
awarding costs, and bears no burden to justify routine cost
awards. Id. at 945-46.
enough to confirm the taxed costs, and the Hiramaneks have
not provided any reason for the Court to depart from the
award. Their suggestion that costs are improper because they
cannot afford to pay them is unsupported. It is true that
they were granted IFP status at the start of this litigation.
But IFP plaintiffs are not automatically protected from the
taxation of costs in favor of the prevailing party.
Warren v. Guelker, 29 F.3d 1386, 1390 (9th Cir.
1994). The Hiramaneks did not proffer with their objections
meaningful evidence of an inability to pay, and cannot skirt
costs on that ground. See Thomasson v. GC Servs. Ltd.
P'ship, No. 05-cv-940-LAB, 2007 WL 3203037, at *4
(S.D. Cal. Oct. 29, 2007).
suggestion that they should be spared costs under the
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101
et seq. (“ADA”), is also ill-taken. The
Supreme Court has determined that a prevailing defendant in a
Title VII case can obtain attorneys' fees only when the
plaintiff's action “was frivolous, unreasonable, or
without foundation.” Christiansburg Garment Co. v.
EEOC, 434 U.S. 412, 421 (1978). This limitation is
intended to ensure that plaintiffs are not unduly chilled
from pursuing legitimate if ultimately unsuccessful
enforcement actions. Id. at 421-22. The Ninth
Circuit has applied the same standard to the award of costs
under the ADA. Martin v. California Dept. of Veterans
Affairs, 560 F.3d 1042, 1052 (9th Cir. 2009).
not a safe harbor for the Hiramaneks. As an initial matter,
the ADA claims were just part of the overall constellation of
claims they alleged. And while the ADA claims figured against
the Santa Clara Superior Court, the claim against Miller was
for alleged racial discrimination only. Dkt. No. 784 at 2-3.
As defendants state, the bulk of the taxed costs are
attributable to the trial at which the jury found in favor of
Miller on that allegation. Id.; see also Dkt. No.
758. The Hiramaneks make no effort to account for these
uncontested facts, but merely assert, without foundation, a
blanket immunity from costs under the ADA for all purposes.
if, purely for discussion purposes, the Hiramaneks'
proposition were taken at face value, the Court has no
trouble finding that their ADA claims were frivolous and
unreasonable. The summary judgment orders dismissing the ADA
claims for telephonic court appearances and other
accommodations amply establish that the Hiramaneks had no
basis in fact or law for a disability discrimination cause of
action. Dkt. Nos. 546, 570. In addition, Judge Whyte clearly
deemed this case as a whole, including the ADA claims, to be
frivolous in the order finding Adil Hiramanek to be a
vexatious litigant. Hiramanek, 2016 WL 6427870, at
are imposed against the Hiramaneks in the amount taxed by ...