United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Attorneys' Fees and Costs (ECF No. 167) and
Defendant's Bill of Costs (ECF No. 170). The motion is
fully briefed and ready for disposition.
October 20, 2014, Plaintiffs Matina Koester and her minor
child, N.K., filed a Complaint for Injunctive Relief against
Defendant Young Men's Christian Association of Greater
St. Louis ("YMCA"), alleging discrimination in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 12101, et seq. ("ADA"). (Compl.,
ECF No. 1) The facts of this case have been thoroughly
presented in the Court's Memorandum and Order of February
5, 2016, granting summary judgment in favor of the Defendant.
The Court incorporates those facts by reference as if fully
set forth herein.
to the Court's Judgment and dismissal of Plaintiff s
Complaint, Defendant filed a Motion for Attorneys' Fees
and Costs under 42 U.S.C. § 12205, Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 54(d), and rules 8.02 and 8.03 of the Local Rules
of the United States District Court for the Eastern District
of Missouri. Defendant has filed a separate Bill of Costs in
the amount of $11, 725.95 (ECF No. 170) and Defendant asserts
that an award of attorneys' fees and costs is justified
in this case because Plaintiffs' lawsuit was frivolous,
unreasonable, and groundless. Plaintiffs, on the other hand,
contend that the ADA challenge was not frivolous but had a
reasonable basis in law and fact.
allows a "prevailing party" to recover its fees
under 42 U.S.C. § 12205. The statute provides:
"[i]n any action . . . commenced pursuant to this
chapter, the court. . ., in its discretion, may allow the
prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable
attorney's fee, including litigation expenses, and costs
. . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 12205. While fees are
routinely awarded to prevailing plaintiffs in ADA cases,
'"policy considerations which support the award of
fees to a prevailing plaintiff are not present in the case of
a prevailing defendant.'" Kohler v. Bed Bath
& Beyond of Cai, LLC, 780 F.3d 1260, 1266 (9th Cir.
2015) (quoting Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC,
434 U.S. 412, 418-19 (1978)).
fees are awarded to a prevailing defendant under the ADA only
in narrow circumstances where "the defendant establishes
that the plaintiffs suit was totally unfounded, frivolous, or
otherwise unreasonable or that the plaintiff continued the
litigation after it clearly became so." Steelman v.
Delano, No. 4:12-CV-00134 (CEJ), 2012 WL 5616156, at *3
(E.D. Mo. Nov. 15, 2012) (citation omitted); see also
Williams v. City of CarlJunction, Mo., 523 F.3d 841, 843
(8th Cir. 2008). The United States Supreme Court has found
this exception appropriate "'to protect defendants
from burdensome litigation having no legal or factual
basis.'" Young v. New Process Steel, LP,
419 F.3d 1201, 1206 (11th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Christianburg, 434 U.S. at 420); see also
Steelman v. Rib Crib No. 18, 2012 WL 4026686, at *5
(W.D. Mo. Sept. 12, 2012) (awarding attorney's fees to
Defendants where plaintiff filed 67 ADA law suits in 18
months where the "groundless complaints forced
Defendants to incur unnecessary attorney fees").
"[e]ven '[a]llegtions that, upon careful
examination, prove legally insufficient to require a trial
are not, for that reason alone, groundless or without
foundation ....'" Williams, 523 F.3d at 843
(quoting Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 15 (1980)
(internal quotations omitted)). "So long as the
plaintiff has 'some basis' for the discrimination
claim, a prevailing defendant may not recover attorneys'
fees." EEOC v. Kenneth Balk & Assocs.,
Inc., 813 F.2d 197, 198 (8th Cir. 1987) (quoting
Obin v. Dist. No. 9 oflnt'lAss'n of
Machinists, 651 F.2d 574, 587 (8th Cir. 1981)). Courts
are mindful of the admonition by the Supreme Court "to
avoid 'post hoc reasoning by concluding that,
because plaintiff did not ultimately prevail, his action must
have been unreasonable or without foundation.'"
Williams, 523 F.3d at 843 (quoting
Christianburg, 434 U.S. at 421-22).
Defendant's Bill of Costs
Court notes at the outset that Plaintiffs' response in
opposition pertains solely to Defendant's Motion for
Attorneys' Fees and Costs and does not address the Bill
of Costs submitted by the Defendant. In that Bill, Defendant
requests that costs in the amount of $11, 725.95 be taxed
against Plaintiffs. Rule 54(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure provides, "[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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). The Court
allows the taxation of costs for, inter alia, fees
for service of summons and subpoena, fees for printed or
electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for
use in the case, and fees for witnesses. (FormAO-133)
has attached itemized documentation for the requested costs,
and the Court is satisfied that these amounts are reasonable
and are in accordance with the costs permitted by federal
law. Therefore, the Court will award Defendant $11, 725.95 in
costs. See Hamidi v. City of Kirksville, No.
2:14CV00087 ERW, 2016 WL 6563470, at *l-2 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 4,
2016) (finding prevailing defendant was entitled to costs
under Rule 54(d) and in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1920
in discrimination case); Dulaney v. Miami-Dade Cty.,
No. 09-23259-CIV, 2011 WL 6754074, at *4-5 (S.D. Fla. Dec.
22, 2011) (awarding costs as enumerated in § 1920 to
prevailing defendant in ADA case).
Attorneys' Fees and Costs Under 42 ...