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Kocher v. Larksville Borough

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 6, 2014

SCOTT E. KOCHER, Plaintiff,
v.
LARKSVILLE BOROUGH, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

A. RICHARD CAPUTO, District Judge.

Presently before the Court are Plaintiff Scott Kocher's ("Plaintiff") Objections to the Clerk's Taxation of Costs. (Doc. 99.) Because the costs were properly taxed against Plaintiff, Plaintiff's objections will be overruled and the Clerk's taxation of costs against Plaintiff in the amount of $5, 934.04 will be affirmed.

I. Background

Plaintiff commenced this action against Defendants Larksville Borough, Joe Zawadski, Tony Kopko, and John Pekarovsky (collectively, "Defendants") on November 3, 2011. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff asserted claims for First Amendment retaliation, Fourteenth Amendment deprivation of liberty interest in reputation, defamation, and false light invasion of privacy. (Doc. 6.)

Defendants moved for summary judgment following the close of discovery. Defendants' motion for summary judgment was granted on February 20, 2013. (Docs. 83; 84.) Judgment was entered in favor of Defendants on the First and Fourteenth Amendment claims, while the state law claims were dismissed without prejudice. (Doc. 84.)

On February 27, 2013, Defendants filed a Notice of Request to Tax Costs pursuant to Local Rule 54.5. (Doc. 85.) The same day, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal of the February 20, 2013 Order granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 86.) The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed on December 10, 2013. See Kocher v. Larksville Borough , ___ F.Appx. ___, 2013 WL 6439651, at *1 (3d Cir. Dec. 10, 2013). The Third Circuit issued its mandate on January 2, 2014. (Doc. 94.)

On January 8, 2014, Defendants docketed their Bill of Costs. (Doc. 95.) Defendants' Bill of Costs requested the Clerk to tax Plaintiff in the amount of $5, 939.04, which consisted of $5, 299.95 in fees for transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case and $639.09 in witness fees. ( Id .)

Plaintiff filed objections to the Bill of Costs on January 13, 2014. (Doc. 96.) Plaintiff requested that he be exempted from paying costs based on financial hardship. ( Id . at ¶ 2.) Alternatively, Plaintiff argued that Defendants were only entitled to deposition costs for witnesses that were used to obtain summary judgment pursuant to Honeywell Int'l, Inc. v. Hamilton Sunstrand Corp. , No. 99-309, 2009 WL 3153496 (D. Del. Sept. 30, 2009). ( Id . at ¶ 5.) Plaintiff also objected to the payment of fees to witnesses whose testimony/transcripts were not used by Defendants in obtaining summary judgment. ( Id . at ¶ 6.)

On January 15, 2014, the Clerk overruled Plaintiff's objections and ordered costs taxed against Plaintiff and in favor of Defendants in the amount of $5, 934.04. (Docs. 97; 98.) The Clerk also noted that any party could appeal to the Court within seven days by filing a written specification of the items objected to and the grounds of objection. (Doc. 97.)

Plaintiff filed timely objections to the Clerk's Taxation of Costs on January 16, 2014. (Doc. 99.) On January 23, 2014, Defendants filed a brief in opposition to Plaintiff's objections. (Doc. 101.) Plaintiff's objections are now ripe for review.

II. Discussion

In objecting to the Clerk's Taxation of Cost, Plaintiff first argues that the Court should exercise its discretion to deny costs because he does not have the financial resources to pay the award. (Doc. 99, ¶¶ 3-5.) Plaintiff also objects to the Clerk's Taxation of Costs on the basis that the Clerk provided no explanation as to why Honeywell Int'l, Inc. v. Hamilton Sunstrand Corp. , No. 99-309, 2009 WL 3153496 (D. Del. Sept. 30, 2009) does not apply to this case. (Doc. 99, ¶ 2.) Relying on Honeywell , Plaintiff argues that Defendants cannot recover costs for depositions that were not filed or used in obtaining summary judgment, nor can they recover the fees paid to those witnesses. ( Id . at ¶¶ 7-8.) Plaintiff's objections are without merit and will be overruled.[1]

Plaintiff's request to be exempted from paying costs will be denied because he fails to establish that such an award would be inequitable under the circumstances. Rule 54(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in pertinent part, that "[u]nless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs - other than attorney's fees - should be allowed to the prevailing party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). This rule creates a "strong presumption" that costs are to be awarded to the prevailing party. Reger v. Nemours Found., Inc. , 599 F.3d 285, 288 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig. , 221 F.3d 449, 462 (3d Cir. 2000)). "Only if the losing party can introduce evidence, and the district court can articulate reasons within the bounds of its equitable power, should costs be reduced or denied to the prevailing party.'" Id . ...


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