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Inc. v. National Oilwell Varco, L.P.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 24, 2017

714 VENTURES, INC.
v.
NATIONAL OILWELL VARCO, L.P.

          ORDER-MEMORANDUM

          KEARNEY, J.

         AND NOW, this 24th day of August 2017, upon considering Plaintiffs unopposed Motion to review the Clerk's determination of taxed costs (ECF Doc. No. 81), it is ORDERED Plaintiffs Motion (ECF Doc. No. 81) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as we reduce Mr. Mann's airfare to $700 resulting in reducing the costs awarded to National Oilwell from $2, 263.12 to $2, 005.00.

         Analysis

         We entered final judgment on December 14, 2016.[1]National Oilwell Varco moved for costs and 714 Ventures, Inc. objected. The Clerk of Court awarded costs $2, 263.12 and 714 Ventures timely moved for review of the Clerk's determination of costs.[2]

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) provides "[u]nless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs[3]-other than attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing party..." The Local Rules provide "[w]hile there is no strict deadline for filing a bill of costs with the Court, a bill of costs must be filed within a reasonable period of time, which should be no later than 45 days after a final judgment is entered by the District Court"[4]

         We review de novo the Clerk's determination as his role under 28 U.S.C. § 1920 is "essentially ministerial."[5] We "retain the discretion to assess independently the factual record, whether the record consists of new evidence or old."[6] Rule 54(d) "creates a 'strong presumption' that all costs authorized for payment will be awarded to the prevailing party."[7] "The losing party, therefore, bears the burden of showing why costs should not be taxed against it."[8] We retain discretion to "refuse to tax costs in favor of the prevailing party."[9]

         A. Objection to timeliness of National Oilwell Varco's bill of costs.

         714 Ventures objects to the Clerk's award of costs because National Oilwell filed its Bill of Costs outside the reasonable 45 day limit set by this District. We addressed and overruled 714 Ventures' objection in our May 30, 2017 Order: "Local Civil Rule 54B.2 focuses on reasonableness and does not set a compulsory deadline" and National Oilwell's "delay of approximately ninety (90) days is not unreasonable given the number of identified costs and [714 Ventures] demonstrates no prejudice in the delayed Bill of Costs.. ."[10]

         B. Objection to costs for Jeffrey Mann's video deposition.

         714 Ventures objects to the Clerk's award of $1, 260.12 in costs for airfare and video deposition of Jeffery Mann because 714 Ventures agreed to his video deposition as a professional courtesy so Mr. Mann would not need to cancel a vacation.

         National Oilwell offered Mr. Mann's video deposition at trial. "Costs related to depositions are recoverable when the depositions are "reasonably necessary" for trial or actual trial preparation."[11] We deny 714 Ventures' request to disallow all costs related to Jeffery Mann's video deposition because National Oilwell used the video deposition at trial.

         714 Ventures further objects to the $985.12 airfare because National Oilwell only submitted Mr. Mann's unissued airline itinerary which is not "a receipt or other evidence of actual cost." 714 Ventures also argues Mr. Mann's "last minute, same day flight" is not the most reasonable, economical rate available. National Oilwell submitted Mr. Mann's itinerary for a non-stop roundtrip from Houston to Pittsburgh for December 6, 2016. It offers no receipt or evidence of costs. The itinerary shows Mr. Mann booked the flight on November 30, 2016.

         We find the itinerary sufficient evidence of actual cost because Mr. Mann flew to Pittsburgh on December 6, 2016 for his deposition. But we also find the $985.12 fare is not the most economically reasonable rate because Mr. Mann did not make his reservation until November 30, 2016. On October 25, 2016, we scheduled trial for December 12, 2016.[12]Counsel for National Oilwell should have known he needed to depose Mr. Mann well before November 30, 2016. Our independent research shows a single day round trip non-stop flight from Houston to Pittsburgh booked approximately a month in advance costs between $580 to $1, 000. We find Mr. Mann's $985.12 fare is not the most economically reasonable fare and reduce the award to $700.

         C. Objection to Keith Vinson's lodging ...


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