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Rashid v. Communications Workers of America

January 13, 2007

ABDUR-RAUF A. RASHID, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Thomas M. Rose

ENTRY AND ORDER TAXING COSTS

This matter arose from the employment of Plaintiff Abdur-Rauf A. Rashid ("Rashid") at US Airways and its predecessor companies. Rashid was employed by US Airways and its predecessor companies from March 1, 1985, through March 31, 2005. The Communications Workers of America ("CWA") and CWA Local 4404 (collectively the "Defendants") were Rashid's exclusive collective bargaining representatives to US Airways at all times relevant.

BACKGROUND

Rashid originally brought a Complaint against the Defendants seeking two claims for relief. The First Claim for Relief was for violation of the Labor Management Relations Disclosure Act (the "LMRDA"), Union Members Bill of Rights, 29 U.S.C. §411. Rashid's Second Claim for Relief was for violation of the duty of fair representation (the "DFR") that Defendants owe him pursuant to 45 U.S.C. §151 et seq. Rashid's original Complaint sought compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorneys' fees and costs.

Rashid's First Claim for Relief was dismissed by this Court pursuant to the Defendant's Motion To Dismiss. Also, Rashid's claim for punitive damages and past attorneys' fees was struck pursuant to that same Motion To Dismiss. (Doc. #12. ) Rashid's DFR claim remained to be adjudicated.

The Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Rashid's DFR claim was then overruled. The DFR claim was tried to a jury on August 10, 11, 14, 15 and 16, 2006. Local 4404 was dismissed on a directed verdict at the close of argument. The jury then rendered a verdict in favor of CWA and judgment was entered accordingly. (Doc. #52.)

The Defendants then filed a motion for an order requiring plaintiff to reimburse them for various costs (doc. #53) and a Bill of Costs (doc. #54). The motion requests costs of $6,396.28 and the Bill of Costs is for $4,106.70. The Clerk of this Court then noticed the parties that a memoranda contra could be filed by the Plaintiff not later than September 15, 2006, and a reply not later than September 30, 2006.

On September 29, 2006, Rashid filed a motion for waiver of court fees and costs*fn1 (doc. #56) to which the Defendants filed a memorandum in opposition (doc. #57). The Clerk then entered a memorandum awarding costs in the amount of $2,720.24 to the Defendants. (Doc. #58.)

The Defendants next filed a second Bill of Costs (doc. #59) and a Motion To Retax Costs (doc. #60.) The Bill of Costs requests $4,106.70. The Motion To Retax asks for $2,144.75 in addition to the costs awarded by the Clerk for a total requested amount of $4,864.99.

Rashid then filed another motion for waiver of court fees and costs (doc. #61) followed by the Defendants' brief in opposition (doc. #62). The time for Rashid to file a reply to his motion has passed and he has not done so. Therefore, the Defendants' Motion To Retax and Rashid's motion for waiver of court fees and costs are ripe for decision.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The taxation of costs by a clerk is subject to a redetermination by the district court. BDT Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., 405 F.3d 415, 418 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing Farmer v. Arabian American Oil Co., 379 U.S. 227, 233 (1964)). Therefore, the Defendants' requests that various costs be taxed to Rashid will be redetermined by the Court.

Federal Rule of Procedure 54(d) provides that a prevailing party shall be allowed to recover its costs unless the court directs otherwise. Id. at 417. "This language creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs, but allows denial of costs at the discretion of the trial court." White & White, Inc. v. American Hospital Supply Corp., 786 F.2d 728, 730 (6th Cir. 1986). The unsuccessful party has the burden of showing circumstances sufficient to overcome this presumption. Id. at 732.

The Sixth Circuit has identified several circumstances where a denial of costs is a proper exercise of discretion. Id. at 730. Such circumstances include "cases where taxable expenditures by the prevailing party are 'unnecessary or unreasonably large,' cases where the prevailing party should be penalized for unnecessarily prolonging trial or for injecting unmeritorious issues, cases where the prevailing party's recovery is so insignificant that the judgment amounts to a victory for the defendants and cases that are 'close and difficult.'" Id. (citations omitted). The Sixth Circuit has also said that the refusal to tax costs against an indigent plaintiff is a permissible exercise of discretion. Singleton v. Smith, 241 F.3d 534, 539 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Jones v. Continental Corp., 789 F.2d 1225, 1233 (6th Cir. 1986)).

The Sixth Circuit has also identified factors that a district court should not consider when determining whether to exercise its discretion and deny costs. White, 786 F.2d at 730. Among these factors are the size of a successful litigant's recovery and the ability of the prevailing party to pay his or her costs. Id.

Finally, the Sixth Circuit has identified factors that may be considered, but, in the absence of other relevant factors, do not warrant an exercise of discretion. These factors include the good faith a losing party demonstrates in filing, prosecuting or defending an action and the propriety with which the losing party conducts the litigation. Id.

This Court has adopted a local rule to further implement Fed.R.Civ.P. 54 and the associated case law. Local Rule 54.1 provides, in part, that taxation of costs will not occur until a final judgment is entered. Local Rule 54.1 also sets forth the standard for preparation of a bill of costs.

Supplementing Fed.R.Civ.P. 54 and Local Rule 54.1, this Court has set forth guidelines for attorney's taxation of court costs (the "Guidelines"). The Guidelines explain the standard and customary practices of the Clerk's office concerning items of cost not otherwise allowed or prohibited by statute or by specific order. Both the Local Rules and the Guidelines are available to all parties and can be reviewed before costs are incurred.

Whether the Defendants in this case are entitled to recover their costs will first be addressed. This will be followed by an analysis of the amount that ...


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