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Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 4, 2014



DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Presently pending and ready for resolution is a motion for review of the clerk's order of taxation filed by Plaintiff Peggy Young. (ECF No. 134).[1] The relevant issues have been briefed and the court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6, no hearing being deemed necessary. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

I. Background

On February 14, 2011, summary judgment was granted in favor of Defendant United Parcel Service, Inc., and against Plaintiff Peggy Young. Plaintiff appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed. See Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 707 F.3d 437 (4th Cir. 2013). Shortly after the appellate mandate issued, Defendant filed a renewed bill of costs, along with a supporting memorandum and exhibits, seeking taxation in the amount of $7, 566.55, consisting of $7, 482.95 for deposition transcript fees and $83.60 for copying costs. (ECF No. 126).[2] Plaintiff opposed the bill of costs, arguing that the deposition transcript fees were not "necessarily obtained for use in the case, " as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2). (ECF No. 131, at 1). The clerk disagreed and entered an order taxing costs in favor of Defendant in the full amount requested. (ECF No. 134).

On June 10, 2013, Plaintiff timely filed the pending motion for review of the bill of costs taxed by the clerk. (ECF No. 134). Defendant filed opposition papers on June 13. (ECF No. 135). Plaintiff did not file a reply.

II. Standard of Review

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1), a district court may conduct a de novo review of the clerk's taxation of costs if a motion is served within seven days of the clerk's order. See Fells v. Virginia Dept. of Transp., 605 F.Supp.2d 740, 742 (E.D.Va. 2009). The same rule gives rise to a presumption that the prevailing party in litigation will be awarded costs, and district courts have limited discretion to deny them:

"[O]nly misconduct by the prevailing party worthy of a penalty... or the losing party's inability to pay will suffice to justify denying costs." Congregation of The Passion, Holy Cross Province v. Touche, Ross & Co., 854 F.2d 219, 222 (7th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted); see also Schwarz v. Folloder, 767 F.2d 125, 131 (5th Cir. 1985) (describing the denial of costs as "in the nature of a penalty" (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)); Serna v. Manzano, 616 F.2d 1165, 1167 (10th Cir. 1980) (same). We have recognized additional factors to justify denying an award of costs, such as their excessiveness in a particular case, the limited value of the prevailing party's victory, or the closeness and difficulty of the issues decided. See Teague [ v. Bakker ], 35 F.3d [978, 996 (4th Cir. 1994)]. Although the losing party's good faith in pursuing an action is a "virtual prerequisite" to receiving relief from the normal operation of Rule 54(d)(1), that party's good faith, standing alone, is an insufficient basis for refusing to assess costs against that party.

Cherry v. Champion Int'l Corp., 186 F.3d 442, 446 (4th Cir. 1999). Where, as here, the requested costs are permitted under 28 U.S.C. § 1920, the challenging party bears the burden of "show[ing] the impropriety of taxing [] costs." Fells, 605 F.Supp.2d at 742 (citing Cofield v. Crumpler, 179 F.R.D. 510, 514 (E.D.Va. 1998)).

III. Analysis

Plaintiff primarily challenges the taxation of costs related to "15 deposition transcripts - [ i.e., ] transcripts of two depositions of [Plaintiff], and transcripts of 13 other depositions." (ECF No. 131, at 1). Deposition transcripts are generally taxable pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2), which states, "[a] judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax as costs... [f]ees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case[.]" Plaintiff cites LaVay Corp. v. Dominion Federal Savings & Loan Ass'n, 830 F.2d 522, 528 (4th Cir. 1987), for the proposition that "[a] district court should award costs when the taking of a deposition is reasonably necessary at the time of its taking." According to Plaintiff, Defendant's bill of costs is "improper under that standard" for a number of reasons. (ECF No. 131, at 1).

A. Sharing Transcripts

Plaintiff purports to attach to her motion, but does not, an email sent by her counsel to defense counsel on or about May 31, 2010, proposing to share copies of a number of deposition transcripts "[i]n an effort to reduce litigation costs[.]" ( Id. at 2). She asserts that Defendant did not respond to this proposal, which "would have resulted in [Defendant] receiving without any cost seven of the transcripts for which it now seeks reimbursement, " and argues that she "should not now be required to mitigate the expense that UPS incurred as the result of its own unwillingness to cooperate." ( Id. ).

As support for this argument, Plaintiff cites unpublished decisions of the Fourth Circuit, N.L.R.B. v. Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO, 818 F.2d 29, 1987 WL 37765 (4th Cir. 1987), and Tenth Circuit, United Transp. Union Local 1745 v. City of Albuquerque, 352 ...

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