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Habersham Plantation Corporation, A Georgia Corporation v. Art & Frame Direct

December 9, 2011

HABERSHAM PLANTATION CORPORATION, A GEORGIA CORPORATION,
AND HABERSHAM INVESTMENT PARTNERSHIP, L.P., A GEORGIA CORPORATION, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ART & FRAME DIRECT, INC., A FLORIDA CORPORATION, WORLD OF DECOR, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION,
THE LIQUIDATION STATION INC., GLOBAL IMPORTING, INC., WORLD OF DECOR BLUE HERON, LLC,
CLOSING FOREVER, LLC, DECORATOR'S RESERVE, INC., ART & FRAME DIRECT/TIMELESS INDUSTRIES GEORGIA, INC.,
WORLD OF DECOR, INC., A FLORIDA CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Seltzer

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART BILL OF COSTS

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Plaintiff's Bill of Costs [DE 224], Defendants' Objections to Plaintiff's Bill of Costs [DE 226], and Plaintiff's Reply Memorandum [DE 228]. The Court has carefully considered the filings and is otherwise fully advised in the premises. The Bill of Costs, treated as a motion by this Court, became ripe on November 21, 2011.

I. BACKGROUND

On September 28, 2011, the Court entered a final judgment in favor of Habersham Plantation Corporation and Habersham Investment Partnership, L.P. ("Plaintiffs"), and against Defendants Art & Frame Direct, Inc., et al. Plaintiffs obtained a jury verdict in their favor on 13 of 16 copyrighted furniture designs [DE 212], out of a total of 19 claims asserted in the Complaint [DE 1]. Plaintiffs then filed a Bill of Costs, seeking a variety of costs and expenses. Defendants oppose the motion on both general grounds that Plaintiffs failed to reduce the costs related to the unsuccessful claims, and also make specific objections to various costs.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Prevailing Party

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) provides that "costs other than attorneys' fees shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs." Defendants suggest that the Court deny all costs because the results were "mixed" in this case. Defendants' Objections at 2. Plaintiffs contend that they are prevailing parties under United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit precedent, because they obtained "success in protecting the subject copyrights . . . the principal objectives of this lawsuit, [and therefore] . . . they are the prevailing parties in this action." Cable/Home Communication Corp. v. Network Productions, Inc., 902 F.2d 829, 853 (11th Cir. 1990). While it is true that this opinion of the Eleventh Circuit did not deal with the factual circumstance of a mixed result, the standard for obtaining prevailing party status remains as stated. In this action, Plaintiffs clearly obtained success in protecting 13 out of 19 copyrights. In deciding upon whether costs should be awarded, Plaintiffs are the prevailing party and should be awarded all costs allowed under the relevant statute.

B. Legal Standard to Award Costs

Although Plaintiffs are the prevailing party, the Supreme Court has interpreted Rule 54(d) to grant federal courts discretion to refuse to tax costs in favor of the prevailing party. See Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 442 (1987). Moreover, "[i]n the exercise of sound discretion, trial courts are accorded great latitude in ascertaining taxable costs." Loughan v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 749 F.2d 1519, 1526 (11th Cir. 1985) (citing United States v. Kolesar, 313 F.2d 835 (5th Cir. 1963)). In exercising its discretion to tax costs, absent explicit statutory authorization, federal courts are limited to those costs specifically enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Crawford Fitting Co, 482 U.S. 437, 445 (1987).

The costs allowed in 28 U.S.C. § 1920 are as follows:

(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 ...


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