United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
JAMES J. HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
BROC GREMMINGER, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on plaintiff's bill of costs
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Defendant Margaret Huff
has responded in opposition and the issues are fully briefed.
brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming
that Huff was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical
need, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United
States Constitution. At trial, the Court granted
plaintiff's motion for judgment as a matter of law at the
close of the case. The jury awarded plaintiff nominal damages
in the amount of one dollar. On June 15, 2017, plaintiff
timely filed the bill of costs, seeking $2, 720.60 in
litigation costs. See E.D. Mo. L.R. 8.03(A)(1).
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) grants district courts
“broad discretion” over the award of costs to
prevailing parties. Little Rock Cardiology Clinic PA v.
Baptist Health, 591 F.3d 591, 601 (8th Cir. 2009). But,
there are limits on this discretion - “such costs must
be set out in 28 U.S.C. § 1920 or some other statutory
authorization.” Smith v. Tenet Healthsystem SL,
Inc., 436 F.3d 879, 889 (8th Cir. 2006). Under §
1920, a judge or clerk of a court may tax as costs:
(1) fees of the clerk and marshal; (2) fees for printed or
electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for
use in the case; (3) fees and disbursements for printing and
witnesses; (4) fees for exemplification and the costs of
making copies of any materials where the copies are
necessarily obtained for use in the case; (5) docket fees
under section 1923 of this title; (6) compensation of court
appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and
salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation
services under section 1828 of this title.
28 U.S.C. § 1920(1)-(6).
Rule 54(d) a prevailing party is “presumptively
entitled to recover all of its costs.” In re
Derailment Cases, 417 F.3d 840, 844 (8th Cir. 2005). The
burden is on the losing party to demonstrate that a request
is inequitable. Concord Boat Corp. v. Brunswick
Corp., 309 F.3d 494, 498 (8th Cir. 2002). Incurred costs
must, however, be “‘necessarily obtained' for
use in the case.” Zotos v. Lindbergh Sch.
Dist., 121 F.3d 356, 364 (8th Cir. 1997).
claims several items in his bill of costs, including (1)
$350.00 for fees of the Clerk, (2) $251.20 in fees for
printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily
obtained for use in the case, (3) $2, 094.40 in fees for
exemplification and the costs of making copies of any
materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use
in the case, and (4) $25.00 in docket fees under 29 U.S.C.
§ 1923. [Doc. #190].
argues that plaintiff is not the “prevailing
party” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 and 28
U.S.C. § 1915(f)(1) because the jury decided only the
issue of damages and not the issue of liability. She cites to
Farrar v. Hobby, 506 U.S. 103 (1992) in support of
her argument. The defendant's position is inconsistent
with Eighth Circuit law as evidenced by the decisions in
Jones v. Lockhart, 29 F.3d 422 (8th Cir. 1994) and
Muhammad v. Lockhart, 104 F.3d 1069 (8th Cir. 1997).
Jones affirmed a district court's award of fees
to a plaintiff in a prisoner civil rights action where the
jury awarded plaintiff $1.00 in compensatory damages and
$1.00 in punitive damages. Id. Applying the logic of
Justice O'Connor's concurring opinion, the court in
Jones held that Farrar did not preclude
entry of judgment for fees. Id. at 424.
Muhammad affirmed the award of attorneys' fees,
costs, and expenses where a civil rights plaintiff obtained a
nominal award of one dollar. 104 F.3d 1069 (8th Cir. 1997).
plaintiff prevailed as a matter of law on his constitutional
claim and thereby accomplished a public goal. Whether the
determination that Huff was deliberately indifferent was made
by the Court or by the jury is immaterial. ...