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True North Energy, LLC v. Chicago Title Insurance Company

October 27, 2011

TRUE NORTH ENERGY, LLC,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHICAGO TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Jack Zouhary

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Before this Court is Defendants' Bill of Costs (Doc. No. 101) filed pursuant to Federal Civil Rule 54(d)(1). Defendants seek a total payment of $14,967.45. Plaintiff filed an Objection (Doc. No. 102); and Defendants replied (Doc. No. 103). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Bill of Costs is granted in part and denied in part.

STANDARD

Prevailing parties in an action may recover certain allowable, reasonable, and necessary costs, pursuant to Federal Civil Rule 54(d). In re Cardizem CD Antitrust Litig., 481 F.3d 355, 359 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 441 (1987)). The types of costs allowed are enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920 as follows:

A judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax as costs the following:

1. Fees of the clerk and marshal;

2. Fees of the court reporter for all or any part of the stenographic transcript necessarily obtained for use in the case;

3. Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;

4. Fees for exemplification and copies of papers necessarily obtained for use in the case;

5. Docket fees under Section 1923 of this title [28 U.S.C. § 1828];

6. Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services under Section 1828 of this title [28 U.S.C. § 1828].

28 U.S.C. § 1920.

Under Rule 54(d), "costs other than attorney's fees shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs." The language of the Rule "creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs, but allows denial of costs at the discretion of the trial court." White & White, Inc. v. Am. Hosp. Supply Corp., 786 F.2d 728, 730 (6th Cir. 1986). In the Sixth Circuit, the "prevailing party is prima facie entitled to costs unless the judgment recovered was insignificant in comparison to the amount actually sought." Lewis v. Pennington, 400 F.2d 806, 819 (6th Cir. 1968) (quoting Lichter Foundation, Inc. v. Welch, 269 F.2d 142, 146 (6th Cir. 1959)). To be excused from the burden of paying costs, the unsuccessful party must "show circumstances sufficient to overcome the presumption favoring an award of costs." White & White, Inc., 786 F.2d at 732. "Such circumstances include: (1) where taxable expenditures are unnecessary or are unreasonably large; (2) where the prevailing party should be penalized for unnecessarily prolonging the trial or injecting unmeritorious issues; (3) where the prevailing party's recovery is so insignificant that the judgment amounts to a victory for the non-prevailing party; and (4) where the case is 'close and difficult.'" Hartford Fin. Servs. Group, Inc. v. Cleveland Public Library, 2007 WL 963320, *1--2 (N.D. Ohio 2007) (citing White & White, Inc., 786 F.2d at 730--31).

Where costs are permitted, the court "must exercise discretion in assessing costs, only allowing for materials 'necessarily obtained for use in the case' and in an amount that is reasonable." Id. at *2 (citing Berryman v. Hofbauer, 161 F.R.D. 341, 344 (E.D. Mich. 1995)).

DISCUSSION

A. THIS CASE PRESENTED NO CLOSE AND DIFFICULT ISSUES

As an initial matter, Plaintiff asks this Court to exercise discretion in taxing costs because the case presented several "close issues" of fact and law. This Court does not simply look at whether one party prevails over the other in determining whether a case is "close and difficult." Instead, this Court looks at "the refinement of perception required to recognize, sift through and organize relevant evidence, and . . . the difficulty of discerning the law of the case." White & White, Inc., 786 F.2d at 732--33. The Sixth Circuit has upheld denial of costs in "close and difficult" cases "involving numerous parties, exhibits, transcript pages, and lengthy opinions." Hartford Fin. Servs. Group, Inc., 2007 WL 963320 at *2.

For instance, in White & White, Inc., the court declined to tax costs in a complex antitrust case where the trial "consumed 80 trial days, required 43 witnesses, produced 800 exhibits, generated almost 15,000 pages of transcript, and begat a 95 page opinion." 786 F.2d at 732. Similarly, in United States Plywood, the court did not tax costs in a patent infringement action involving complex patent issues where a ...


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