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Germinaro v. Fidelity National Title Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 31, 2019

JOSEPH J. GERMINARO, an individual, and GABRIELLA P. GERMINARO, an individual, Plaintiffs,
v.
FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY and COMMONWEALTH LAND TITLE INSURANCE CORPORATION, a Nebraska corporation, and DOES 1 through 100, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          Nora Barry Fischer Senior United States District Judge.

         AND NOW, this day 31st of July, 2019, upon consideration of the Motion for Relief from Taxation of Costs (Docket No. [191]) filed by Plaintiffs Joseph J. Germinaro and Gabriella P. Germinaro (“Plaintiffs”), the Brief in Opposition filed by Defendants Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Corporation (“Defendants”) (Docket No. 193), Plaintiffs' reply brief (Docket No. 195), and Defendants' sur-reply brief (Docket No. 197), and in light of the standard governing motions for relief from taxation of costs, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED, IN PART, and DENIED, IN PART.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Defendants Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company alleging that their violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq. (“RICO”) prevented Plaintiffs from effectuating a tax-deferred land exchange pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 1031. (Docket Nos. 12, 177). After discovery closed, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. (Docket Nos. 199, 124). This Court granted Defendants' motion on February 21, 2017, and denied Plaintiffs' partial motion. (Docket Nos. 177-78). Thirty days later, Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal (Docket No. 180), and Defendants filed a Bill of Costs (Docket No. 181). Given the pending appeal, the Clerk of Courts (“Clerk”) notified the parties that he would not take any action on the Bill of Costs until disposition of the appeal. (Docket No. 183).

         After the Third Circuit affirmed this Court's ruling, Defendants advised the Clerk of the judgment and renewed their request for $19, 394.52 in costs. (Docket Nos. 181, 184, 186). Plaintiffs filed objections on December 11, 2018. (Docket Nos. 187, 188). After considering the Plaintiffs' substantial objections, on June 10, 2019, the Clerk taxed costs in the amount of $11, 417.00 in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiffs. (Docket Nos. 189, 190). Seven days later, Plaintiffs timely filed their Motion for Relief from Taxation. (Docket No. 191); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1) (mandating “[o]n motion served within the next 7 days, the court may review the clerk's action”).

         II. Standard of Review

         The Court addresses costs de novo. Camesi v. Univ. of Pittsburgh Med. Ctr., 673 Fed.Appx. 141, 144 (3d Cir. 2016). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) provides, in relevant part, “Unless 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). To this end, “the rule creates the ‘strong presumption' that costs are to be awarded to the prevailing party” and “[o]nly 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.” In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 221 F.3d 449, 462, 468 (3d Cir. 2000). “Thus, if a district court, within its discretion, denies or reduces a prevailing party's award of costs, it must articulate its reasons for doing so.” Reger v. Nemours Found., Inc., 599 F.3d 285, 288 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing In re Paoli, 221 F.3d at 468; Mathews v. Crosby, 480 F.3d 1265, 1276 (11th Cir. 2007)) (emphasis added). However, a district court is not required to write an opinion or explain its reasoning “when it affirms a Clerk of Court's award of litigation costs.” Id. at 289.

As a general rule, the following costs are recoverable by the prevailing party:
(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;
(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case;
(3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;
(4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case;
(5) Docket fees under section 1923 of this title;
(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services ...

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