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Michael Treiber and Angela Treiber v. Alfred Krug

November 4, 2011

MICHAEL TREIBER AND ANGELA TREIBER, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ALFRED KRUG, ELFRIEDE KRUG, J.W. HAND & SONS, RAILING DYNAMICS, INC. DEFENDANTS.



CLERK'S OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on motion [Dkt. Entry 102] for Taxation of Costs by Plaintiffs pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) and Local Civil Rule 54.1. The Plaintiffs are requesting to be reimbursed the amount of $17,008.17. The Defendants Railing Dynamics, Inc. and J.W. Hand & Sons have filed opposition to Plaintiffs' motion.

This matter proceeded to a ten-day jury trial and on May 20, 2011, the last day of trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs. Following the verdict [Dkt. Entry 93] the Court entered judgment [Dkt. Entry 100] in favor of Plaintiffs Michael and Angela Treiber and against Defendants Alfred and Elfriede Krug, J.W. Hand & Sons, Inc., and Railing Dynamics, Inc., in the amount of $2,007,015.19. The Court entered an Order granting attorney fees on September 27, 2011. The record reflects no Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals has been filed. Therefore, despite Plaintiffs' assertions, this motion was not ripe for disposition until October 27, 2011, thirty days after the final post trial motion had been decided. *fn1 See L. Civ. R. 54.1(a).

I. Standard Awarding Costs

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), a prevailing party is entitled to costs unless the court otherwise directs.*fn2

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 (3d Cir. 2000) (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).

a) Prevailing Party

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, Plaintiffs are 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) ("The 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." Title 28 of the United States Code, section 1920 defines which costs are taxable:

(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;

(4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case;

(5) Docket fees under section 1923 of this title;

(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees expenses, and costs of special interpretation services under section 1828 of this title.

While a Court does have discretion as to which costs it grants, it many not shift costs beyond those found in § 1920 and § 1821 without express statutory authorization to do so. Adams v. Teamsters Local 115, No. 99-4910, 2007 WL 2071897 at *8 (E.D. Pa. July 17, 2007)(citing Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T.Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 444-45 (1987)). Additionally, Local Civil Rule 54.1 "set[s] forth the general rules . . . to follow in taxing costs" under ยง 1920. Lite, N.J. Federal Practice Rules, Comment 4 to Rule 54.1, at 201 (Gann 2009 ed.). Therefore, while a prevailing party is entitled to costs under Rule 54 of ...


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