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Reichhold, Inc. v. United States Metals Refining Co.

November 6, 2009

REICHHOLD, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES METALS REFINING COMPANY, CYPRUS AMAX MINERALS COMPANY, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on motion [Dkt. Entry 268] for Taxation of Costs by Plaintiff Reichhold ("Reichhold") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) and Local Civil Rule 54.1. United States Metals Refining Company ("USMRC") has filed opposition to Reichhold's motion.

Reichhold, Inc., commenced this action on January 31, 2003, requesting legal and declaratory relief against USMRC pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-9675.

The trial in this matter took place during the period of January 22 to March 4, 2009. The case was tried without a jury for eighteen days. The Court entered final judgment in this matter on June 22, 2009 [Dkt. Entry 267] in favor of Reichhhold, Inc., and against Defendants United States Metal Refining Company, Cyprus Amax Minerals Company, Amax Realty Development, Inc., Amax Copper, Inc., and Amax, Inc. The parties appealed to the United States Court of Appeals. That Court entered an order on October 2, 2009 dismissing the appeals in this matter.

I. Standard Awarding Costs

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), a prevailing party is entitled to costs unless the court otherwise directs.*fn1

Rule 54(d)(1) creates a "'strong presumption' that costs are to be awarded to the prevailing party." In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 221 F.3d 449, 462 (quoting 10 MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE § 54.101, at 54-149); see also Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. August, 450 U.S. 346, 352 (1981). If an order or judgment is silent as to costs, as it is in this matter, the natural reading of Rule 54(d) would lead one to conclude that a judgment or order allows costs because the Court had not "otherwise directed." Congregation of the Passion, Holy Cross Province v. Touche, Ross & Co., 854 F. 2d 219, 221 (7th Cir. 1988).

a) Prevailing Party

Reichhold asserted six claims at trial and only prevailed on four of them; therefore, according to USMRC, costs should be apportioned or entitled to costs for claims on which Reichhold prevailed. (Greenberg Opp'n to motion to tax costs.) USMRC's argument is incorrect. A party is a prevailing party when that party succeeds on "any significant issue in litigation which achieved some of the benefit sought in bringing the suit." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983).

In the current matter, Reichhold is the prevailing party within the meaning of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d). See Garonzik v. Whitman Diner, 910 F. Supp. 167, 168 (D.N.J. 1995) ("A prevailing party is the one in whose favor of a judgment is rendered, regardless of whether the party has recovered its entire claim or a portion thereof.") (citing Fahey v. Carty, 102 F.R.D. 751 (D.N.J. 1983); see also, 2 Moore's Federal Practice § 54.101 (3d ed.2005) ("[t]he cases that have interpreted the 'prevailing party' language of Rule 54(d)(1) generally state simply that the prevailing party is the party in whose favor judgment was entered, even if that judgment does not fully vindicate the litigant's position in the case.").

b) Taxable Costs

As noted, Federal Rule Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) states "unless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs-other than attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing party." 28 U.S.C. § 1920 defines which costs are taxable:

(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;

(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily ...


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