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Zainulabeddin v. University of South Florida Board of Trustees

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

May 19, 2017

NAUSHEEN ZAINULABEDDIN, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA BOARD OF TRUSTEES, Defendant.

          ORDER

          JAMES S. MOODY, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS CAUSE comes before the Court upon Defendant's Motion to Tax Costs (Doc. 55) and Plaintiff's Response in Opposition (Doc. 64). The Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant and dismissed Plaintiff's case on April 19, 2017. Defendant now seeks to recover its taxable costs. Upon review, the Court will partially grant Defendant's motion.

         I. Defendant's Entitlement to Costs

         Courts should award prevailing parties their costs. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). However, courts may only tax costs authorized by statute. U.S. E.E.O.C. v. W&O, Inc., 213 F.3d 600, 620 (11th Cir. 2000). Courts may tax costs enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920, including fees for service, witnesses, and transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case. 28 U.S.C. § 1920; U.S. E.E.O.C., 213 F.3d at 620. The party seeking an award of costs must submit a request that enables the court to determine the party's entitlement to those costs. See Fodor v. D'Isernia, 599 F.App'x 375, 376 (11th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Fodor v. E. Shipbuilding Grp., 136 S.Ct. 146 (2015); Loranger v. Stierheim, 10 F.3d 776, 784 (11th Cir. 1994). A party's failure to provide sufficient detail or documentation regarding the costs can be grounds to deny the costs. Pelc v. Nowak, No. 8:11-CV-79-T-17TGW, 2013 WL 3771233, at *5 (M.D. Fla. July 17, 2013), aff'd, 596 F.App'x 768 (11th Cir. 2015).

         In this case, Defendant seeks to recover $5, 802.15 in fees for (1) removal, (2) service, (3) deposition transcripts, (4) witnesses, and (5) a copy of Plaintiff's state court pleadings. Defendant has not demonstrated that it is entitled to the full amount requested. As discussed further below, the Court will award Defendant $5, 382.15 in costs.

         i. Removal Fee

         A prevailing party can recover “fees of the clerk, ” including any filing fees paid. 28 U.S.C. § 1920(1); Wiercioch v. Verizon Florida, LLC, No. 8:11-CV-2129-T-30EAJ, 2013 WL 1442060, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 9, 2013) (removal fees “unquestionably covered by § 1920”). Defendant requests $400 in costs for the filing fee it paid to remove this action from state court to federal court. (Doc. 55-1, pgs. 2, 4.) Defendant is entitled to recover the $400 requested.

         ii. Fees for Service of Subpoenas

         A prevailing party can recover the costs it incurred using a private process server to serve subpoenas, but those costs cannot exceed the amount authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 1921. 28 U.S.C. § 1920(1); U.S. E.E.O.C., 213 F.3d at 623-24. Pursuant to that statute and its implementing regulations, process servers shall be paid $65 per hour, plus travel costs and any other out-of-pocket expenses. 28 U.S.C. § 1921; 28 C.F.R. § 0.114(a)(3).

         Defendant requests $343 in costs for serving seven subpoenas. (Doc. 55-1, pgs. 2, 5-11.) Defendant utilized private process servers, who charged $49 per subpoena. Defendant is entitled to recover the $343 requested.

         iii. Fees for Deposition Transcripts

         A prevailing party can recover costs incurred obtaining deposition transcripts if they were “necessarily obtained for use in the case.” 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2); U.S. E.E.O.C., 213 F.3d at 620-21. A party's use of the deposition in a dispositive motion or inclusion of the deponent in its witness list tends to show that the deposition was necessarily obtained for use in the case. See id. at 621. However, even when the prevailing party did not ultimately use the deposition, a court may still award it the cost as long as “no evidence shows that the deposition was unrelated to an issue in the case at the time it was taken.” Watson v. Lake Cty., 492 F.App'x 991, 996-97 (11th Cir. 2012).

         Deposition costs incurred for the party's convenience-as opposed to necessity- are not recoverable. U.S. E.E.O.C., 213 F.3d at 620. Charges for condensed transcripts, summaries, scanning, and CD litigation packages are typically not recoverable because they are costs incurred for the party's convenience. E.g., Wiand v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 8:12-CV-557-T-27EAJ, 2015 WL 12839237, at *9-11 (M.D. Fla. June 10, 2015), report and recommendation adopted, No. 8:12-CV-557-T-27EAJ, 2016 WL 355490 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 29, 2016) (internal citations omitted). In addition, charges for shipping and handling are not recoverable. Watson, 492 F.App'x 991 at 997.

         Defendant requests $4, 870.15 for the cost of transcribing nine depositions, which includes the court reporter's attendance fee. (Doc. 55-1, pgs. 2, 12-20.) Defendant has demonstrated that each deposition was necessarily obtained for use in the case. The Parties identified each of the deponents as a person with knowledge of the claims or defenses in this action and/or as a possible witness at trial. In addition, Defendant used many of the deposition transcripts in presenting its case. For example, Defendant cited to five of the deposition transcripts in ...


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