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Grochowski v. Science Applications International Corp.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 12, 2017




         In 2013, Kathy Grochowski sued her former employer, Science Applications International Corporation (“SAIC”), alleging employment discrimination based on sex. See ECF 2 (“Complaint”).[1] In particular, Grochowski alleged that she was unlawfully subject to disparate pay and unlawfully terminated, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. SAIC disputed the claim of disparate pay and claimed that Grochowski was severed as part of a corporate reorganization of SAIC.

         By Memorandum Opinion (ECF 56) and Order (ECF 57) of September 11, 2015, I granted SAIC's motion for summary judgment (ECF 26) as to Count I of the Complaint. And, I dismissed as moot Count II of the Complaint (“Stay of Threatened Arbitration”). ECF 57.

         On September 18, 2015, SAIC filed a Petition for Bill of Costs (ECF 58) in the amount of $10, 553.52, supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 58-1) (collectively, the “Petition”), and several exhibits. ECF 58-2 to ECF 58-5. In particular, defendant requested filing fees in the amount of $420.00; $9, 002.07 in deposition transcript costs; and $1, 131.45 in copy fees. ECF 58-2. Defendant stated, ECF 58-1 at 2:

Plaintiff Kathy Grochowski (“Plaintiff”) took six depositions[2] in this case[], and Defendant drew upon all of these, either directly or indirectly, in framing its Motion for Summary Judgment. SAIC took only one deposition in this case, which was crucial- the video deposition of Plaintiff, Kathy Grochowski. In total, the transcripts for these seven depositions totaled $9, 002.07. See Exhibit 1, Invoices of Deposition Transcripts. Testimony addressed in all seven (7) of these depositions was essential in preparing Defendant's defense and successfully advancing its Motion for Summary Judgment.

         On October 2, 2015, plaintiff responded to the Petition. ECF 59. She objected to the award of costs for depositions and copying, but not court fees. Id. at 2. She asserted that the requested costs were either “plainly not taxable” under the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland Guidelines for Bills of Costs (2013) (“Guidelines”) or because SAIC failed to provide adequate documentation. Id. at 1. Alternatively, she objected on “equitable grounds.” Id. Plaintiff asserted, id.: “Defendant is a multi-billion dollar corporation. Plaintiff is an individual, and the need for an opinion 52 pages in length (ECF No. 56) to grant defendant summary judgment attests to the substance of her action.”

         Defendant replied on October 16, 2015. ECF 60. With the Reply, SAIC provided additional documentation to support its Petition. In addition, SAIC withdrew its request for compensation for expedited copies of transcripts; withdrew its request for $1, 131.45 in costs for copying; and reduced its total request for fees from $10, 553.52 to $6, 158.56. Id. at 2.

         On October 14, 2016, the Clerk issued an Order (ECF 61) awarding SAIC taxable costs in the amount of $5, 800.05. Id. at 4. The award consisted of $420 in filing fees, to which the plaintiff had not objected, and $5, 380.05 for deposition transcripts, rather than the $5, 738.56 that SAIC had requested. Id. at 3-4. In the Order the Clerk explained, ECF 61 at 2-3 (bold in original):

Defendant originally requested a total of $9, 002.07 in deposition transcript fees. See ECF No. 58-2. Plaintiff objected to the taxation of these costs in full on the basis that the supporting documentation does not specific [sic] the number of pages, the per-page rate, and contains additional charges that are precluded from taxation under the Guidelines, including “Realtime Services, ” “Rough Draft, ” and “Shipping & Handling.” See ECF No. 59 at 2-5. Plaintiff also objected to charges for exhibits based on insufficient justification. See id. Defendant replied by providing additional documentation including the per-page rate, the number of pages for each transcript, and reducing its total deposition costs request to $5, 738.56, eliminating requests for the charges objected to by Plaintiff. See ECF No. 60-1. Given the supporting documentation supplied by Defendant in its reply, and because the costs are otherwise taxable in this Court, Defendant's request for transcript fees is granted. See Guidelines II.D.1. However, as detailed in the chart below, the revised costs requested by Defendant total only to $5, 380.05 instead of the $5, 738.56 stated by Defendant. Therefore, Defendant's request is granted in the amount of $5, 380.05.

         On October 21, 2016, plaintiff filed a Motion for Review of the Clerk's Order Taxing Costs (ECF 62, “Motion”), requesting “that this Court deny, on equitable grounds, the taxation of costs in this case or, in the alternative, further reduce the assessment of costs against Plaintiff to only the Clerk Fees assessed ($420.00).” Id. at 1-2. Notably, plaintiff does not assert an inability to pay. SAIC opposes the Motion. ECF 63 (“Opposition”). No reply has been filed, and the time to do so has expired. See Local Rule 105.2(a).

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny plaintiff's Motion.

         I. Standard of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1920, a judge or Clerk of Court may tax as costs, among other things, “Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2). In addition, fees are compensable for the “costs of making copies of any material where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case.” 28 U.S.C. § 1920(4).

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d) provides, in pertinent part: “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 Fourth Circuit has said that “the rule creates the presumption that costs are to be awarded to the prevailing party.” Cherry v. Champion Int'l Corp., 186 F.3d 442, 446 (4th Cir. 1999). Thus, “it is incumbent upon the unsuccessful party to show circumstances sufficient to overcome the presumption favoring an award of costs to the prevailing party.” Wyne v. Medo Indus., Inc., ...

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