United States District Court, D. Hawaii
THERESA KIMES, individually and as Guardian Ad Litem for her minor daughter R.K., Plaintiff,
STATE OF HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Defendant.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY DEFENDANT'S
BILL OF COSTS
RICHARD L. PUGLISI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY DEFENDANT'S BILL OF COSTS
Before the Court is Defendant State of Hawaii Department of
Education's Bill of Costs filed on May 14, 2018. ECF No.
126. Plaintiff filed an Objection on May 17, 2018. ECF No.
130. Although provided with an opportunity to reply,
Defendant did not file a response to Plaintiff's
Objection. See ECF No. 131. After a review of the
parties' submissions, the record in this action, and the
relevant authority, the Court FINDS and RECOMMENDS that the
Bill of Costs be DENIED.
action, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant violated Section 504
of the Rehabilitation Act by (1) denying R.K. reasonable
accommodations that she needed in order to enjoy meaningful
access to the benefits of her public education at Mokulele
Elementary School and (2) acting with deliberate indifference
towards R.K.'s right to a free and appropriate public
education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act. See ECF No. 1.
a four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict finding that
Plaintiff proved by a preponderance of the evidence that
Defendant denied R.K. a reasonable accommodation that she
needed in order to enjoy meaningful access to the benefits of
her public education and finding that Plaintiff did not prove
by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant acted with
deliberate indifference. See ECF No. 124. Judgment
was entered in favor of Defendant in accordance with the
jury's verdict and the Court's prior order granting
in part a prior motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 125.
Defendant filed its Bill of Costs on May 14, 2018, seeking an
award of $8, 143.90 in costs. ECF No. 126.
Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 54 provides that “costs --
other than attorney's fees -- should be allowed to the
prevailing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). Under Rule
54(d), there is a presumption that the prevailing party will
be awarded costs. Save Our Valley v. Sound Transit,
335 F.3d 932, 944 (9th Cir. 2003). To overcome this
presumption, a losing party must establish a reason to deny
costs. Id. See also Stanley v. Univ. of S. Cal., 178
F.3d 1069, 1079 (9th Cir. 1999). The court may consider the
several factors in exercising its discretion to deny an award
of costs to the prevailing party, including the public
importance of the case, the difficulty of the issues
presented, the chilling effect on future actions, the
plaintiff's limited financial resources, and the economic
disparity between the parties. Escriba v. Foster Poultry
Farms, Inc., 743 F.3d 1236, 1247-48 (9th Cir. 2014)
(citing Mexican-American Educators v. California,
231 F.3d 572, 592-93 (9th Cir. 2000)). In considering the
factors as detailed below, the Court FINDS and RECOMMENDS
that the district court decline to award costs in this case.
the Court finds that this case has substantial public
importance. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was
enacted, in part, to ensure that disabled children are
provided with meaningful access to the benefits of a free and
appropriate public education. See Mark H. v.
Lemahieu, 513 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2008)
(“Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that
disabled individuals not ‘be excluded from the
participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected
to discrimination under any program or activity' that
receives federal funds); see also Brown v. Bd. of Ed. of
Topeka, Shawnee Cty., Kan., 347 U.S. 483, 493, 74 S.Ct.
686, 691, 98 L.Ed. 873 (1954) (“[E]ducation is perhaps
the most important function of state and local
the Court finds that this case was close. Plaintiff's
Section 504 claim survived summary judgment. See ECF
No. 52. After the presentation of evidence during trial, the
jury deliberated for three days before returning a verdict
that found that Plaintiff had proven that Defendant denied
R.K. a reasonable accommodation that she needed in order to
enjoy meaningful access to the benefits of her public
education, but that Defendant did not act with deliberate
indifference. See ECF No. 124.
the Court finds that an award of costs against Plaintiff
could chill similar Section 504 lawsuits regarding access to
education. Future litigant may choose not to risk an
unsuccessful lawsuit that may result in an award of costs.
the Court finds that Plaintiff's limited financial
resources and the economic disparity between the parties both
weigh in favor of favor of declining to award costs.
Plaintiff states that she is a homemaker and that her husband
is retired from the United States Army and is currently a
United Parcel Service employee. See ECF No. 130 at
6. In contrast, the State of Hawaii bore the defense costs of
consideration of the relevant factors, the Court FINDS and
RECOMMENDS that the district court exercise its discretion to
decline to award costs in this action ...