United States District Court, D. Columbia.
SALAH N. OSSEIRAN, Plaintiff,
INTERNATIONAL FINANCE CORPORATION, Defendant
For SALAH N. OSSEIRAN, Plaintiff: Christopher W. Mahoney, Joseph S. Ferretti, LEAD ATTORNEYS, DUANE MORRIS LLP, Washington, DC.
For INTERNATIONAL FINANCE CORPORATION, Defendant: Francis A. Vasquez, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Frank Panopoulos, WHITE & CASE LLP, Washington, DC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DEBORAH A. ROBINSON, United States Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Salah Osseiran's claim against Defendant International Finance Corporation for breach of a confidentiality agreement proceeded to a bench trial before the assigned United States District Judge, and on June 24, 2013, the Court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of one dollar. See Memorandum Opinion (Document No. 97); Final Judgment (Document No. 98). Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a Bill of Costs (Document No. 99), to which Defendant objected (Document No. 100). The Clerk of Court taxed costs in the amount of $24,166.26 against Defendant, explaining that Plaintiff's costs were reduced by $57.50 due to a duplicate request for the cost of the pretrial conference transcript (Document No. 101). Defendant then filed a Motion to Retax Costs (" Motion" ) (Document No. 102). This motion was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for resolution. Referral to Magistrate Judge (Document No. 104). The undersigned heard argument on the motion on January 24, 2014. Upon consideration of the motion, the memoranda in support thereof and opposition thereto, the arguments of counsel at the January 24, 2014 hearing, and the entire record herein, the undersigned, in accordance with Local Civil Rule 72.2, will
grant in part and deny in part Defendant's motion.
CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES
Defendant moves, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 and Local Civil Rule 54.1(e), to " retax the costs assessed by the Clerk of the Court," contending that Plaintiff only obtained de minimus relief and is thus not a prevailing party entitled to costs. Motion at 1-2; Motion, Exhibit 1 (" Memorandum" ) (Document No. 102-1) at 2. In the alternative, Defendant requests that the court retax the costs in the amount of $5,949.48 to account for certain costs claimed by Plaintiff -- more specifically, costs associated with an expert witness, transcript preparation, and exhibit binders -- that it contends are not eligible under the local rule. Motion at 1-2; see also Memorandum at 3-5.
Plaintiff, relying on decisions from this Circuit, contends that he is entitled to costs as the prevailing party in this action since he was awarded nominal damages. Plaintiff's Opposition to International Finance Corporation's Motion to Retax Costs (" Opposition" ) (Document No. 103) at 3-5. In response to the specific costs challenged by Defendant, Plaintiff maintains that the local rule " does not constrain the Court's authority" to award costs under the relevant Federal Rule and United States Code provisions. See id. at 5-15.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 provides, in pertinent part, 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). Although " Rule 54(d)(1) codifies a venerable presumption that prevailing parties are entitled to costs . . . . the word 'should' makes clear that the decision whether to award costs ultimately lies within the sound discretion of the district court." Marx v. Gen. Revenue Corp., 133 S.Ct. 1166, 1172, 185 L.Ed.2d 242 (2013) (footnote omitted) (citations omitted); see also Guevara v. Onyewu, 943 F.Supp.2d 192, 195 (D.D.C. 2013) (citing Moore v. Nat'l Ass'n of Secs. Dealers, Inc., 762 F.2d 1093, 1107, 246 U.S.App.D.C. 114 (D.C. Cir. 1985)) (" Although costs are generally awarded as a matter of course, the district court has discretion in allowing, disallowing, or apportioning costs." ).
Section 1920 of Title 28 of the United States Code enumerates certain costs that " [a] judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax." The local rules of this court set forth the costs that the Clerk of Court " shall" tax, LCvR 54.1(d), and provide that " [t]he court, on a motion to retax, for good cause shown may tax additional costs or may deny costs allowed by the Clerk pursuant to Section (d)," LCvR 54.1(e). " In accordance with the presumption that costs are awarded to the prevailing party, 'federal courts have placed on the unsuccessful parties some burden of showing circumstances sufficient to overcome the presumption favoring the prevailing party.'" Guevara, 943 F.Supp.2d at 195-96 (quoting Baez v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 684 F.2d 999, 1004, 221 U.S.App.D.C. 477 (D.C. Cir. 1982)).