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Dixon v. State, Department of Education

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 20, 2018

STEPHANIE DIXON, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF HAWAII, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT IN PART AND DENY IN PART DEFENDANT'S BILL OF COSTS

          KENNETH J. MANSFIELD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         On May 29, 2018, Defendant State of Hawaii, Department of Education (“Defendant”) filed its Bill of Costs. ECF No. 74. On June 1, 2018, Plaintiff Stephanie Dixon (“Plaintiff”) filed her Objections to the Bill of Costs (“Objection”). ECF No. 75.

         The Court elected to decide this matter without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2 of the Local Rules of Practice for the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii (“Local Rules”). After carefully reviewing the filings and the record in this case, the Court FINDS and RECOMMENDS that the district court GRANT IN PART and DENY IN PART Defendant's Bill of Costs.

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of Plaintiff's employment as a school counselor for Defendant. On March 11, 2016, Plaintiff filed her original Complaint. ECF No. 1. On January 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Second Amended Complaint. ECF No. 56. The Court recites the following background facts from the district court's May 14, 2018 Order Granting Defendant State of Hawaii, Department of Education's Second Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (“05/14/2018 Order”). ECF No. 72.

         Plaintiff alleged that she is an African American woman and that the DOE treated her less favorably than a similarly situated white male employee when she was denied training opportunities, forced to share an office with another African American school counselor, and eventually moved to a smaller office. Plaintiff also alleged that Defendant took no action when Plaintiff complained to her supervisors about the disparate treatment, and instead retaliated against Plaintiff when she reported an assault by a parent of one of the students Plaintiff counseled. Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint asserted claims against Defendant for discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000, et seq. (“Title VII”).

         On January 11, 2018, Defendant filed its Second Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, seeking dismissal of all claims in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (“MJOP”). ECF No. 62. Pursuant to the 05/14/2018 Order, the district court granted Defendant's MJOP and directed the Clerk's Office to close the case. ECF No. 72. The Clerk of Court subsequently entered judgment in favor of Defendant on May 14, 2018. ECF No. 73.

         Defendant timely filed its Bill of Costs on May 29, 2018. ECF No. 74. Defendant's Bill of Costs includes a supporting declaration from its counsel, William M. Levins, Esq. (“Levins Declaration”). ECF No. 74-3.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Defendant's Bill of Costs

         Defendant requests $2, 237.98 in costs pursuant to Rule 54(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”). See ECF No. 74; ECF No. 74-2 at 3. FRCP Rule 54(d)(1) states 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.” Thus, pursuant to FRCP Rule 54(d), courts have discretion to award costs to the prevailing party. See Yasui v. Maui Elec. Co., 78 F.Supp.2d 1124, 1126 (D. Haw. 1999).

         Indeed, “Rule 54(d) creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs to prevailing parties, and it is incumbent upon the losing party to demonstrate why the costs should not be awarded.” Id. “The presumption itself provides all the reason a court needs for awarding costs, and when a district court states no reason for awarding costs, [the appellate court] will assume it acted based on that presumption.” Quan v. Comput. Scis. Corp., 623 F.3d 870, 888 (9th Cir. 2010) (brackets added) (citations omitted). “To overcome this presumption, a losing party must establish a reason to deny costs.” Stanley v. Univ. of S. Cal., 178 F.3d 1069, 1079 (9th Cir. 1999).

         While courts have discretion to award costs pursuant to Rule 54(d), “courts may only tax those costs defined in 28 U.S.C. § 1920.” Yasui, 78 F.Supp.2d at 1126 (other citations omitted) (citing Aflex Corp. v. Underwriters Labs., Inc., 914 F.2d 175, 176 (9th Cir. 1990)) (providing that § 1920 enumerates expenses that a federal court may tax as a cost under the discretionary authority found in Rule 54(d)). Section 1920 enumerates costs taxable to 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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