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Guevara v. Onyewu

United States District Court, District Circuit

May 9, 2013

ELIZABETH GUEVARA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHUKEWUEMEKA ONYEWU, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO RETAX COSTS Re Document Nos. 80, 84

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

After a trial in which the jury rendered a verdict rejecting the plaintiff's medical malpractice claims, the defendant as the prevailing party submitted a bill of costs. The Clerk taxed $7, 175.82 in costs. The plaintiff seeks to have the bill denied on the basis of her alleged indigence or, in the alternative, reduced due to the inclusion of inappropriate line items. The Court will decline to entirely deny the bill of costs but will order the Clerk to reduce the bill by the amount taxed for the unnecessary demonstrative exhibit production and deposition transcript order.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This litigation arose in 2010 when Elizabeth Guevara ("Plaintiff") and her husband[1] filed a complaint for medical negligence and loss of consortium resulting from a brachioplasty surgery performed by Dr. Chukewuemeka Onyewu ("Defendant"). See Compl. (Dkt. No. 1) at 4-8. The case proceeded to trial in January 2013, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendant on all counts. See Jury Verdict (Dkt. No. 77).

After trial, Defendant submitted a bill of costs, seeking payment from Plaintiff for costs related to Clerk's fees, creation of demonstrative exhibits, photocopies, and deposition transcript orders. See Mot. Costs (Dkt. No. 80).[2] On April 23, 2013, the Clerk taxed costs totaling $7, 175.82, including $380.68 in filing fees, $2, 995.50 in deposition transcripts, $80.00 in witness fees, $3, 422.74 for exemplification and copying exhibits, and $296.90 for other copying costs. See Bill of Costs (Dkt. No. 83). Less than four hours after the Clerk posted the bill of costs to the docket, Plaintiff filed a motion to retax that restates verbatim the arguments she submitted in opposition to Defendant's original motion - namely, that her indigence warrants complete denial of the motion for costs or, alternatively, that there is no basis for the Court to award costs for money spent on demonstrative exhibits and certain deposition transcripts. Compare Mot. Retax (Dkt. No. 84), with Opp'n Mot. Costs (Dkt. No. 82).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that costs "should be allowed to the prevailing party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). Under federal statute, taxable costs include, among other things:

(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; [and]
(4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily ...

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