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Transoceanic Cable Ship Company, LLC v. Bautista

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

September 28, 2018

TRANSOCEANIC CABLE SHIP COMPANY LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSE FIESTA BAUTISTA, JR., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY DEFENDANT JOSE FIESTA BAUTISTA, JR.'S OBJECTIONS TO PLAINTIFF'S BILL OF COSTS

          KEVIN S.C. CHANG UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Jose Fiesta Bautista Jr.'s Objection to Plaintiff's Request for Bill of Costs, filed September 18, 2018. The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice for the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii (“Local Rule”). After careful consideration of the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the Court HEREBY RECOMMENDS that the Objections be DENIED, and that Plaintiff be awarded $3, 171.14 in costs for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         On May 8, 2017 Plaintiff Transoceanic Cable Ship Company LLC (“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment against Defendant Jose Fiesta Bautista Jr. (“Defendant”). The Non-Jury Trial, in this matter, began on August 14, 2018. Judge Kay issued his Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law (“Findings”) on September 5, 2018. ECF No. 86. Pursuant to the Findings, the Clerk of the Court issued Judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant on September 5, 2018. ECF No. 87

         Plaintiff timely filed its Bill of Costs on September 19, 2018. Defendant Jose Fiesta Bautista Jr. (“Defendant”) filed his objections to the Bill of Costs on September 18, 2018.[1]

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff requests $3, 171.14 in costs as the prevailing party in this action: (1) $400.00 in filing fees; (2) $1, 485.10 in service fees; (3) $899.79 in deposition transcript fees; and $386.25 in copying costs. Defendant objects to the Bill of Costs based on grounds that Plaintiff failed to prove the necessity of the costs and a substantial hardship upon Defendant for the amount sought.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 54(d)(1) provides 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). FRCP 54(d)(1) “creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs to a prevailing party, but vests in the district court discretion to refuse to award costs.” Escriba v. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc., 743 F.3d 1236, 1247 (9th Cir. 2014) (citing Ass'n of Mexican-American Educ. v. State of Cal., 231 F.3d 572, 591 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc)).

         “Courts consistently confirm that ‘[a] party in whose favor judgment is rendered is generally the prevailing party for purposes of awarding costs under Rule 54(d).'” San Diego Police Officers' Ass'n v. San Diego City Employees' Retirement Sys., 568 F.3d 725, 741 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). The Local Rules similarly provide that “[t]he party entitled to costs shall be the prevailing party in whose favor judgment is entered, or shall be the party who prevails in connection with a motion listed in LR 54.2(b).” Local Rule 54.2(a). A party need not prevail on all claims to be found the prevailing party. San Diego, 568 F.3d at 741.

         In this case, judgment was entered in Plaintiff's favor, thus it is the prevailing party. Therefore, at issue is whether Plaintiff is entitled to the requested costs.

         The Court's discretion to award costs pursuant to FRCP 54(d) is not unlimited. Ass'n of Mexican-American Educators v. Cal., 231 F.3d 572, 591 (9th Cir. 2000). Courts may only tax the costs identified in 28 U.S.C. § 1920. See Yasui v. Maui Electric Co., Ltd., 78 F.Supp.2d 1124, 1126 (D. Haw. 1999) (citing Alflex Corp. v. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., 914 F.2d 175, 177 (9th Cir. 1990); Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 441-42 (1987)); Kalitta Air L.L.C. v. Cent. Tex. Airborne Sys. Inc., 741 F.3d 955, 957 (9th Cir. 2013) (“The general costs statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1920, defines the term ‘costs' as used in Rule 54(d).”).

         Section 1920 enumerates the following costs:

(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;
(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained ...

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