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Pruitt v. Genentech, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 26, 2019

TIMOTHY PRUITT, Plaintiff,
v.
GENENTECH, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S BILL OF COSTS, AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S BILL OF COSTS

          DHN A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Timothy Pruitt filed a lawsuit in Solano County Superior Court after Genentech, Inc. fired him in July 2016. His ten-count complaint alleged violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), California Labor Code Section 1102.5, the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Compl., ECF No. 1-1. He also raised defamation and wrongful termination claims. Id. Genentech removed this case to federal court. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.

         The Court dismissed Pruitt's defamation claim. ECF No. 18. Furthermore, the Court granted Genentech summary judgment on Pruitt's FEHA discrimination claim, CFRA claim, and FMLA claim. Minutes for 1/8/2019 Hearing; see also, Transcript of 1/8/2019 Proceedings at 28:20-29:6. The Court also granted Genentech summary judgment on Pruitt's FEHA and Section 1102.5 retaliation claims to the extent that those claims rested on the theory that Genentech retaliated against Pruitt for taking medical leave. Id. at 29:9-13. Pruitt's wrongful termination claim went to trial, as did his FEHA and Section 1102.5 retaliation claims based on the theory that Genentech retaliated against him for filing a race-based discrimination complaint. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Pruitt on his wrongful termination and Section 1102.5 retaliation claims, and in favor of Genentech on the FEHA retaliation claim. Jury Verdict, ECF No. 163.

         As the prevailing party in this action, Plaintiff seeks to recover costs totaling $17, 072.16. Plf.'s Bill of Costs, ECF No. 167. Genentech opposes Pruitt's motion and seeks to recover the costs incurred after Pruitt rejected its Rule 68 offer. Def.'s Bill of Costs, ECF No. 169; Def.'s Objections, ECF No. 170. Pruitt opposes Genentech's claimed costs. Plf.'s Objections, ECF No. 171. For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Pruitt's bill of costs, and GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Genentech's bill of costs.[1]

         I. OPINION

         A. Legal Standard

         In general, “costs-other than attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing party.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 54(d)(1). A party's bill of costs must conform to 28 U.S.C. § 1924. E.D. Cal. L.R. 292(b). It must “itemize the costs claimed and [] be supported by a memorandum of costs and an affidavit of counsel that costs claimed are allowable by law, are correctly stated, and were necessarily incurred.” Id. “The party against whom costs are claimed may . . . file specific objections to claimed items with a statement of grounds for objections.” E.D. Cal. L.R. 292(c). The objecting party bears the burden of presenting reasons that are “sufficiently persuasive to overcome the presumption in favor of an award.” In re Online DVD-Rental Antitrust Litig., 779 F.3d 914, 932 (9th Cir. 2015). Ultimately, a district court must “exercise its discretion in determining whether to allow certain costs.” Yeager v. Bowlin, No. 2:08-cv-102-WBS-JFM, 2010 WL 716389, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 26, 2010) (citing Amarel v. Connell, 102 F.3d 1494, 1523 (9th Cir. 1997)).

         B. Analysis

         1. Pruitt's Bill of Costs

         Pruitt claims $17, 062.16 in costs. Plf.'s Bill of Costs at 1. Genentech does not challenge Pruitt's $435 filing fee, but objects to the remaining costs on three grounds: (1) Pruitt failed to establish his claimed transcript, demonstrative, and copying costs were necessarily incurred; (2) Rule 68(d) bars Pruitt from collecting costs incurred after March 18, 2019; and (3) the costs Pruitt claims for video depositions are duplicative.

         a. Costs Incurred following Rule 68 Offer

         Pruitt incurred $942.30 in costs following Genentech's March 18, 2019 offer of judgment. Although Pruitt contends Genentech cannot recover costs following its Rule 68 offer-an argument discussed below, infra at 6-Pruitt does not oppose Genentech's argument that Rule 68 bars Pruitt from recovering costs incurred after Genentech made the rejected March 18 offer. Correctly so. Rule 68 states, “[i]f the judgment []the offeree finally obtains is not more favorable than the unaccepted offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred after the offer was made.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 68(d). On March 18, 2019, Genentech served Pruitt with an offer of judgment amounting to $600, 000, inclusive of costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees. See Decl. of Julie A. Totten ISO Genentech's Bill of Costs ¶ 2, Exh. A. Pruitt did not accept this offer. Rather, he proceeded to trial where the jury returned a verdict for him in the amount of $233, 126. Verdict Form, ECF No. 163. Because Pruitt obtained a judgment less favorable than the one Genentech offered, the Court DENIES the $942.30 in costs he incurred from April 1-4, 2019.

         b. Section 1920(1) Costs

         Pruitt is entitled to tax “fees of the clerk” under 28 U.S.C. § 1920(1). Pruitt incurred $435 when he filed his lawsuit ...


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