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Aly v. Hanzada for Import & Export Co., Ltd.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division

August 30, 2017

HASSANIN ALY, Plaintiff,
v.
HANZADA for IMPORT & EXPORT COMPANY, LTD., Defendant.

          ORDER DETERMINING COSTS

          GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE.

         This case involved a contract dispute between Defendant Hanzada for Import & Export Company, LTD., (“Hanzada”), and Plaintiff Hassanin Aly (“Aly”). After a trial, a jury found in favor of Aly. (Doc. 149).

         Now before the Court is Aly's Bill of Costs seeking $2, 310.28 (Doc. 221).[1] No objections were filed. For the following reasons, the Court awards Aly $2, 310.28 in costs.

         Standard

         Rule 54(d)(1) provides that “[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). A district court “has discretion in determining and awarding costs in a given case.” Pershern v. Fiatallis N. Am., Inc., 834 F.2d 136, 140 (8th Cir. 1987); see Marx v. Gen. Revenue Corp., 568 U.S. 371, 377 (2013) (“[T]he word ‘should' makes clear that the decision whether to award costs ultimately lies within the sound discretion of the district court.”). But, the “prevailing party is presumptively entitled to recover all of its costs.” Thompson v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 472 F.3d 515, 517 (8th Cir. 2006). The prevailing party bears the burden of persuading the court that the items and amounts sought are compensable under 28 U.S.C. § 1920 or some other authority. Combs v. Cordish Cos., No. 14-0227-CV-ODS, 2015 WL 5096009, at *1 (W.D. Mo. Aug. 28, 2015).

         The court's power to tax costs under § 1920 is limited to the items enumerated in the statute. Taniguchi v. Kan.Pac. Saipan, Ltd., 132 S.Ct. 1997, 2006 (2012). “Costs” are construed narrowly under the statute. The Supreme Court has cautioned that “[a]lthough ‘costs' has an everyday meaning synonymous with ‘expenses, '” taxable costs “are a fraction of the nontaxable expenses borne by litigants for attorneys, experts, consultants, and investigators.” Id.

         Section 1920 identifies six expenses that may be taxed as costs. Five of these are applicable to the present case: (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;” and (4) “Docket fees under section 1923(a).” 28 U.S.C. § 1920.

         Discussion

         The Court finds all of the costs Aly submitted are compensable and discusses each in turn. First, Aly seeks $550.00 for fees to the Clerk of Court consisting of $350.00 for the filing fee, and $200.00 for Pro hac vice fees. Both fees are compensable. The filing fee is a taxable cost under § 1920(1) and pro hac vice fees are recoverable costs under Eighth Circuit case law. Craftsmen Limousine, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 579 F.3d 894, 898 (8th Cir. 2009) (holding pro hac vice fees are taxable costs).

         Second, Aly seeks $1, 463.40 in transcripts consisting of $1, 008.00 for a deposition transcript, $104.40 for transcript of a portion of the trial, and $351.00 for a transcript of the pre-trial conference and a transcript of a portion of the trial.

         In determining whether the cost of a deposition is compensable under § 1920, the relevant question is not whether the deposition was used at trial but whether it “reasonably seemed necessary at the time [it] w[as] taken.” Zotos v. Lindbergh School Dist., 121 F.3d 356, 363 (8th Cir. 1997). It appears from the record this deposition was reasonably necessary at the time it was taken. Accordingly, the cost is compensable.

         Trial transcripts for counsel's convenience are not taxable, E.E.O.C. v. Hibbing Taconite Co., 2010 WL 4237318, at *3 (D. Minn. Oct. 21, 2010), however, if the transcripts are necessary to respond to post-trial motions, the cost is taxable. Jo Ann Howard & Assocs., P.C. v. Cassity, No. 09CV01252-ERW, 2015 WL 7422199, at *6 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 20, 2015). Here, the parties actively engaged in post-trial motions and as a result, the Court finds the transcripts were necessary, not a convenience. Thus, the cost is taxable.

         Third, Aly seeks $147.63 for mileage expenses associated with witness travel. Fees for witnesses are compensable under § 1920(3). See also 28 U.S.C. § 1821(c)(4); Nelson v. Darragh Co., 120 F.R.D. 517, 519 (W.D. Ark. 1988).

         Fourth, Aly seeks $20.00 for docket fees under 28 U.S.C. § 1923(a) which is compensable because ...


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