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Browdy v. Synovos, Inc.

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

November 19, 2019

RONALD W. BROWDY, Plaintiff,
v.
SYNOVOS, INC., Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER P. TUTTE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This cause is before me on referral for consideration of Synovos, Inc.'s (Synovos's) Verified Motion of Defendant to Tax Costs. (Doc. 41). Plaintiff Ronald Browdy opposes the motion. (Doc. 43). For the reasons discussed below, I respectfully recommend that Synovos's motion for costs be granted in part and denied in part.

         I.

         The background of this employment discrimination case is set forth in a recent decision of the Court (Doc. 39) and therefore need only be summarized here. Synovos provides inventory control solutions to its customers and hired Browdy, a black male, in 2012 to serve on its Implementation Team. Id. at 1; (Doc. 11 at 2). Roughly eighteen months later, Browdy was promoted to Implementation Team manager and placed in charge of four employees. Id.

         In late 2015 or early 2016, as part of a restructuring, Synovos eliminated the Implementation Team and created a Rapid Launch Team (RLT). Id. at 2. As a consequence, all members of the Implementation Team, including Browdy, were made part of the RLT and converted to the position of RLT member. Id. Browdy was the only RLT member who was a manager prior to the restructuring. Id. Because this conversion stripped him of his supervisory responsibilities, he viewed it as a demotion. Id. at 2-3.

         In late 2016, Synovos posted two openings for the position of RLT manager and hired an outside consultant, Danielle White, to compile a short list of candidates. Id. at 3. Although Browdy applied, White did not consider him qualified for the job and therefore did not include him on her short list.[1] Id. Browdy was notified in June 2017 that he had not been selected for the RLT manager position. Id.

         The next month, Browdy filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging he was denied a promotion to RLT manager and “subsequently demoted” because of his race. Id. at 4. The EEOC issued a “Notice of Right to Sue” three months later. (Doc. 11 at 2).

         Browdy thereafter initiated the instant action (Doc. 1), asserting in his operative complaint that he was demoted to RLT member and later denied a promotion to RLT manager because of his race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Title VII) (Doc. 11).

         In March 2019, following the completion of discovery, Synovos moved for summary judgment with respect to both Browdy's demotion and failure-to-promote claims. (Doc. 29). In support of that motion, Synovos argued that Brody had failed to: (1) exhaust his administrative remedies regarding his demotion claim; and (2) establish a prima facie case of race discrimination as to his failure-to-promote claim. Id. The Court granted Synovos summary judgment on both claims in June 2019 and entered judgment in its favor. (Doc. 39). The instant motion for costs followed. (Doc. 41).

         II.

         Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a prevailing party may recover its costs, not inclusive of attorneys' fees. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). “Usually the litigant in whose favor judgment is rendered is the prevailing party for purposes of [R]ule 54(d).” Haughton v. SunTrust Bank, Inc., 403 Fed.Appx. 458, 459 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting Head v. Medford, 62 F.3d 351, 354 (11th Cir. 1995)).

         Generally, a district court may not award costs to a prevailing party under Rule 54 “in excess of those permitted by Congress under 28 U.S.C. § 1920.” Maris Distrib. Co. v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 302 F.3d 1207, 1225 (11th Cir. 2002) (citing Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437 (1987)). Section 1920 authorizes the recovery of the following 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 28 U.S.C. § 1923; and (6) compensation for court appointed experts and interpreter services. 28 U.S.C. § 1920(1)-(6).

         On appeal, “a district court's decision about whether to award costs to the prevailing party [is reviewed] for [an] abuse of discretion.” Mathews v. Crosby, 480 F.3d 1265, 1276 (11th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted).

         Here, Synovos submits that it is the prevailing party and moves for costs totaling $2, 062.35. Those costs consist of: (a) $1, 626.95 for “costs incident” to Browdy's deposition; (b) $35.40 for the costs of making copies; and (c) $400 for mediation. (Docs. 41, 42). In support of its motion for costs, Synovos submits various invoices and documentation, as well ...


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