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BOYADJIAN v. CIGNA COS.

March 6, 1998

ROBERT BOYADJIAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CIGNA COMPANIES, AFIA WORLDWIDE INSURANCE, and CIGNA'S AFIA RETIREMENT PLAN ADMINISTRATOR, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARELL

 PARELL, District Judge

 This matter is before the Court on motion by plaintiff pro se Robert Boyadjian ("Boyadjian") for costs pursuant to Local Rule 54.1. For the reasons expressed in this Memorandum Opinion, plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 BACKGROUND

 The facts underlying the instant action are set forth in detail in this Court's Opinion filed July 29, 1997. In the interest of clarity, we will briefly restate them here. Plaintiff commenced this action on August 21, 1995, seeking relief under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1461. Boyadjian alleged that he was employed by defendant AFIA Worldwide Insurance ("AFIA") from June, 1971 through March, 1982 and was therefore eligible for benefits under the company's retirement plan (the "Plan"). (Compl. at 2.) Initially, CIGNA Companies ("CIGNA") took the position that plaintiff did not establish his eligibility under the Plan. By Memorandum and Order dated July 17, 1996, the Court denied without prejudice defendants' motion for summary judgment, finding that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether plaintiff was employed by AFIA for the ten years required to become eligible for retirement benefits. (Mem. & Order dated July 17, 1996.) After the Court denied defendants' initial motion for summary judgment, defendants determined that plaintiff was entitled to benefits under the Plan, and so informed Boyadjian.

 Subsequently, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Defendants sought dismissal of plaintiff's claims for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that their actions in informing plaintiff of his eligibility and rights under the plan rendered plaintiff's claims moot. Plaintiff moved for summary judgment, arguing that he was entitled to: (1) attorney's fees and costs related to this suit; (2) $ 100 per day from July 29, 1993 to September 3, 1996, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(c), for defendants' failure to provide requested information concerning the Plan; and (3) damages for emotional distress and punitive damages. (Pl.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. at 2.) By an Opinion dated July 29, 1997, the Court granted the motions in part and denied them in part. See Boyadjian v. Cigna Corp., 973 F. Supp. 500 (D.N.J. 1997). With respect to plaintiff's attorney's fee request, the Court denied plaintiff's application, holding that pro se plaintiffs are not entitled to recover attorney's fees under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1). The Court stated, however, that plaintiff was entitled to "litigation costs reasonably incurred." Id. at 503. The Court directed plaintiff to submit "a Bill of Costs in accordance with Local Civil Rule 54.1. within 30 days of the entry of the Order" accompanying the Opinion. Id.

 Plaintiff filed his Bill of Costs with the Court on August 11, 1997. In it, plaintiff seeks the following amounts: (1) $ 150.00 paid as a filing fee; (2) $ 8,129.84 incurred in "discovery" (which includes amounts for telephone, postage, copying and "time spent"); (3) $ 14,002.20 for "litigation and court action" (which includes amounts for telephone, postage, copying, the purchase of a computer and "time spent"; (4) $ 708.60 for travel mileage for time spent traveling to and from various libraries; and (5) $ 119.70 for a subscription to America On-Line. The total amount of costs is $ 23,110.34. *fn1" Plaintiff indicates that "time spent refers to preparation of motions, oppositions, legal research, reading, internet lookup of House of Representative Law Library and LEXIS-NEXIS Law Library, etc." (Pl.'s Bill of Costs.) Plaintiff has not submitted to the Court any verification of these amounts, and has not provided any receipts in support of his application.

 Defendants oppose plaintiff's motion, arguing that (1) various expenses listed in the Bill of Costs cannot be awarded pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1920 and (2) charges for "time spent" are in essence, attorney's fees. (Defs.' Ltr. Br. at 1-2.)

 DISCUSSION

 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g) provides that in "any action under this subchapter . . . by a participant, beneficiary, or fiduciary, the court in its discretion may allow a reasonable attorney's fee and costs of action to either party." 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1). By its terms, § 1132(g)(1) does not specifically state what costs are to be awarded under the statute. However, the Supreme Court has held that a court may not shift costs beyond those found in § 1920 and § 1821 (not applicable here) without express statutory authority to do so. West Virginia Univ. Hosps., Inc. v. Casey, 499 U.S. 83, 86, 113 L. Ed. 2d 68, 111 S. Ct. 1138 (1991); Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 444-45, 96 L. Ed. 2d 385, 107 S. Ct. 2494 (1987). Thus, we must turn to 28 U.S.C. § 1920, which provides that a judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax as costs the following:

 
(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;
 
(2) Fees of the court reporter for all or any part of the stenographic transcript necessarily obtained for use in the case;
 
(3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;
 
(4) Fees for exemplification and copies of papers necessarily obtained ...

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