United States District Court, S.D. Florida
J. O'SULLIVAN, UNITED SPATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on the Bill of Costs (DE# 166,
8/11/17) and the Supplemental Bill of Costs (DE# 189,
10/2/17) filed by the defendants.
13, 2017, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the
defendants and against the plaintiff. See Verdict (DE# 140,
7/13/17). On the same day, the Court entered a final judgment
in accordance with the verdict. See Final Judgment
(DE# 141, 7/13/17). The defendants now seek to recover costs
pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 1920 and
Rule 54(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See
Memorandum in Support of Defendants, The Mason and Dixon
Lines, Incorporated and Timothy Leverett's, Bill of Costs
(DE# 167 at 1, 8/11/17).
54(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides
that costs other than attorneys' fees shall be allowed to
the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). A "prevailing party, " for
purposes of the rule, is a party in whose favor judgment is
rendered. See Util. Automation 2000, Inc. v.
Choctawhatchee Elec. Co-op., Inc., 298 F.3d 1238, 1248
(11th Cir. 2002). In the instant case, the Court entered a
judgment in favor of the defendants and against the
plaintiff. See Final Judgment (DE# 141, 7/13/17). As
such, the defendants are the prevailing party and are
entitled to recover taxable costs.
ABILITY TO PAY
plaintiff argues that the defendants' request for costs
should be denied in its entirety because the plaintiff does
not have the ability to pay those costs. See
Plaintiff's Response and Objections to Defendants'
Bill of Costs (DE# 166) (DE# 184 at 9, 9/25/17). In support
of this argument, the plaintiff has filed an affidavit.
See Affidavit of Alba Cardona in Opposition to
Defendant's Bill of Costs and Defendant's Memorandum
of Law in Support of Same (DE# 186-1, 9/25/17) (hereinafter
"Plaintiff's Affidavit"). In her affidavit, the
plaintiff attests that she is 74 years old and on a fixed
monthly income of $851.00 which she receives from the Social
Security Administration, Id. at ¶ 5. She
further attests that she has $900.00 in her bank account and
no other accounts, Id. at ¶ 4. The plaintiff
also states that she relies on "family tenants" to
help pay her mortgage and has no additional assets or other
sources of income. Id. at ¶7. The plaintiff
concludes that she is "not in an economic position to
satisfy any costs in this matter...
."Id. at 9.
defendants respond that the Court should not consider the
plaintiff's financial state in awarding costs to the
defendants. Defendants' Reply to Plaintiffs Response and
Objections to Defendants' Bill of Costs (DE# 188 at 9,
10/2/17). The defendants note that the plaintiff's
affidavit is not sufficiently detailed and that the plaintiff
could pay costs over time. Id.
Court finds that there is no justification to reduce a cost
award based solely on the plaintiff's alleged inability
to satisfy a judgment. See Mathews v. Crosby, 480
F.3d 1265, 1276-77 (11th Cir. 2007) (affirming an award of
costs despite a claim of indigence because the district court
had no "sound basis to overcome the strong presumption
that a prevailing party is entitled to costs") (citing
Chapman v. Al Transp., 229 F.3d 1012, 1023-24 (11th
Cir. 2000)). In the instant case, there is an insufficient
showing for the Court to conclude that the plaintiff is
unable to pay the award of costs. The plaintiff does not
specify how much her tenants contribute towards her mortgage
or list her monthly expenses. "This Court requires
substantial documentation of a true inability to pay for [it
to] reduce the amount of costs to be paid, and may not
decline to award any costs at all." Perez v. Saks
Fifth Ave., Inc., No. 07-21794-CIV, 2011 WL 13172510, at
*11 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 14, 2011).
28, United States Code, Section 1920 sets out the specific
costs that may be recovered:
or clerk of any Court of the United States 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
28 U.S.C. §1920. In the exercise of sound discretion,
trial courts are accorded great latitude ascertaining taxable
costs. However, 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. E.E.O.C. v. W&O. Inc., 213 F.3d
600, 620 (11th Cir. 2000). Accordingly, the defendants may
only recover those costs they are entitled to recover under
28 U.S.C. §1920.
Fees of the Clerk
defendants seek to recover $400.00 paid to the Clerk of the
Court as a filing fee. This amount was incurred when the
defendants removed the case from state court to this Court.
Section 1920(1) permits the recovery of "[f]ees of the
clerk and marshal, " 28 U.S.C. § 1920(1). The
plaintiff does not dispute this amount. See Plaintiff's
Response and Objections to Defendants' Bill of Costs (DE#
166) (DE# ...