The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT KELLY, Senior District Judge
Presently before the Court are the Objections to the Clerk's Taxation
of Costs filed by Defendant, Westchester Fire Insurance Company
("Westchester"). For the reasons stated below, this Court will affirm in
part and reverse in part the Clerk's Taxation of Costs.
Plaintiff, Montgomery County ("the County"), brought this diversity
action against Defendants, Microvote Corporation ("Microvote"), Carson
Manufacturing Company, Inc. ("Carson") and Westchester. The action stems
from a written contract entered on May 25, 1994, whereby the County
purchased voting machines, hardware, software and support services from Microvote for the price of
approximately $3.8 million.*fn1 The voting machines malfunctioned during
several primary and general elections which engendered disputes regarding
the parties actions and obligations pursuant to the contract. As a
result, the County filed a lawsuit contending that both Microvote and
Carson were liable for negligence (Count I), breach of warranty (Count
II), and fraud (Count IV). In addition, the County asserted that
Microvote was solely liable for breach of contract (Count III) and
wrongful use of civil proceedings (Count V). The final Count of the
Complaint was an action by the County against Westchester under the
performance bond (Count VI).
Following a ten day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of
the County in the amount of $1,048,500.00.*fn2 Specifically, the County
prevailed on its breach of warranty claim against Microvote (Count II)
and its breach of the performance bond claim against Westchester (Count VI). On
November 3, 2000, a final judgment was entered in favor of the County and
against Westchester and Microvote for $1,048,500.00. (See Doc. No. 386).
The parties filed post trial motions which were denied by this Court.
Westchester and Microvote appealed the denials of their post trial
motions and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ("Third Circuit")
affirmed the judgments. Westchester paid the principal amount of the
judgment, $1,048,500.00, plus post-judgment interest of $182,106.28, for
a total payment of $1,230,606.28. The County filed its Bill of Costs on
March 6, 2003. Following a telephone conference, the Clerk of Court
awarded costs in the amount of $107,780.81 on February 18, 2004.
The taxation of costs by the Clerk of Court is subject to de novo
review. City of Rome, Italy v. Glanton, 184 F.R.D. 547, 548 (E.D. Pa.
1999) (citations omitted). In reviewing a bill of costs, the court
applies the standards set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d).
Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)). Rule 54(d) provides, in pertinent part,
that "[e]xcept when express provision therefor is made either in a statute of the United States or in these rules, costs other
than attorneys' fees shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing
party unless the court otherwise directs. . . ."*fn3 Fed. R. Civ. P.
54(d)(1). "By mandating that, subject to court intervention, costs be
allowed to a prevailing party as of course, the rule creates the strong
presumption that costs are to be awarded to the prevailing party." In re
Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 221 F.3d 449, 462 (3d Cir. 2000) (citations
omitted). Under Rule 54(d), "a prevailing party generally is entitled to
an award of costs unless the award would be `inequitable.'" Smith v.
SEPTA, 47 F.3d 97, 99 (3d Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). In light of the
strong presumption towards the awarding of costs, "the losing party bears
the burden of making the showing that an award is inequitable under the circumstances." Paoli, 221 F.3d at 462-63 (citation
omitted). Regarding the limitations on a district court's discretion to
deny costs to a prevailing party, the Third Circuit has held that "the
denial of costs to the prevailing party . . . is in the nature of a
penalty for some defection on his part in the course of the litigation."
Smith, 47 F.3d at 99 (citations omitted).
Westchester objects to the Clerk's Taxation of Costs on several
grounds.*fn4 First, Westchester makes a general argument that the
awarding of costs to the County is improper because it was not a
prevailing party as required by Rule 54.
Second, Westchester objects to specific items taxed in the Bill of
Costs. The County argues that the Clerk's awarding of costs was proper
because it was the prevailing party in this case. The County also asserts
that the Clerk correctly taxed all of the specific items included in its
Bill of Costs. Lastly, in addition to upholding the Clerk's Taxation of
Costs, the County seeks post-judgment interest on its costs. Each of the
parties' arguments will be addressed seriatim. A. Westchester's General Objection
1. Prevailing Party Status
Westchester argues that the County is not a prevailing party because it
only had limited success at trial.
Westchester's argument is premised upon the basis that the County was
not successful on all of its claims and that the award of $1,048,500.00
was not the full amount of the original damages demand. "As is apparent
from the language of Rule 54(d)(1), `the determination of who qualifies
as a prevailing party is central to deciding whether costs are
available.'" Barber v. T.D. Williamson, Inc., 254 F.3d 1223, 1233-34
(10th Cir. 2001)(quoting Wright & Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure
§ 2667). "Ordinarily, a prevailing party for Rule 54(d) purposes is no
different from a prevailing party in other circumstances." City of Rome,
184 F.R.D. at 549 (citation omitted). In the Third Circuit, "the standard
used for determining prevailing party status is `whether plaintiff
achieved some of the benefit sought by the party bringing the suit.'"
Id. (quoting Institutionalized Juveniles v. Sec'y of Pub. Welfare,
758 F.2d 897, 910 (3d Cir. 1985)). According to the Third Circuit, in
order "to apply the prevailing party standard, the court must identify
the relief plaintiff sought and sometimes the legal theories on which the relief was based." Id.
(citing Institutionalized Juveniles, 758 F.2d at 911). The Third Circuit
has "clarified this inquiry by indicating that the court should also
evaluate whether the litigation had a material effect in bringing about
that benefit or change in legal relationships." Id. (citing Metro.
Pittsburgh Crusade for Voters v. Pittsburgh, 964 F.2d 244, 250 (3d Cir.
1992); N.J. Rooming and Boarding House Owners v. Ashbury Park,
152 F.3d 217, 225 n.5 (3d Cir. 1998)).
Evaluating whether the litigation had a material effect in bringing
about the benefit sought by the County, this Court concludes that the
County is a prevailing party. In light of the judgment entered in the
County's favor, and the award of $1,048,500.00, the County did receive
some of the relief that it sought by bringing its lawsuit.*fn5 The
County did not succeed on all of its claims, and did not receive the full
amount of the damages it requested; however, total success is not
warranted for purposes of prevailing party status under Rule 54(d). See
Institutionalized Juveniles, 758 F.2d at 910 (stating that the standard
in determining prevailing party status is "whether plaintiff achieved some of the benefit
sought by the party bringing suit")(emphasis added); see also Garonzik
v. Whitman Diner, 910 F. Supp. 167, 168 (D.N.J. 1995)(declaring that "[a]
prevailing party is the one in whose favor a judgment is rendered,
regardless of whether the party has recovered its entire claim or a
portion thereof"); 10 Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and
Procedure: Civil 3d § 2667 at 212, n. 16 (collecting cases)(stating that
"a claimant who has obtained some relief usually will be regarded as the
prevailing party even though he has not sustained all of his ...