United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JOSHUA S. BOYETTE, JUSTIN L. SWIDLER, RICHARD STEVEN SWARTZ, SWARTZ SWIDLER LLC, CHERRY HILL, NJ, On behalf of plaintiff.
MICHAEL D. HOMANS, RACHEL E. LICAUSI, FLASTER GREENBERG PC, CHERRY HILL, NJ, On behalf of defendant.
NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.
This matter has come before the Court on the motion of plaintiff to vacate the Clerk's Order granting defendant's motion for the taxation of costs. For the reasons expressed below, plaintiff's motion will be granted.
BACKGROUND & ANALYSIS
After a denial of defendant's motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims that defendant violated the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, N.J.S.A. 34:19-3, when it terminated plaintiff's employment for his expression of safety concerns about the product load in his delivery truck, the matter proceeded to a three-day jury trial. On May 6, 2014, a jury returned a verdict in defendant's favor. On May 13, 2014, a judgment in favor of defendant was entered. On June 12, 2014, defendant filed a motion pursuant to Federal Civil Procedure Rule 54(d) and Local Civil Rule 54.1 for costs in the amount of $5, 271.60, which the Clerk granted in part and denied in part on July 24, 2014, awarding defendant $4, 072.78.
Plaintiff has asked the Court to vacate the Clerk's imposition of costs against him, for two reasons. First, plaintiff argues that defendant did not properly follow the procedures required by Local Rule 54.1. Second, plaintiff argues that he is financially unable to pay the bill of costs so that it is inequitable to uphold the Clerk's Order. In response, defendant argues that the filing of its motion for costs was appropriate and plaintiff's failure to timely respond to its motion does not justify the Court vacating the award of costs. Defendant also argues that plaintiff's statements as to his financial situation are insufficient to support his motion.
Federal Civil Procedure Rule 54(d) provides, "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.... The clerk may tax costs on 14 days' notice. On motion served within the next 7 days, the court may review the clerk's action."
The New Jersey District Court Local Civil Rule 54.1 modifies the F.R.C.P. The Local Rule provides, in relevant part:
(a) Within 30 days after the entry of a judgment allowing costs, ... the prevailing party shall serve on the attorney for the adverse party and file with the Clerk a Bill of Costs and Disbursements, together with a notice of motion when application will be made to the Clerk to tax the same.
(d) The notice of motion shall specify the hour and date when application to the Clerk to tax the costs will be made, which shall not be less than three nor more than seven days from the date of the notice if personal service is made and, if service is made by mail, not less than seven nor more than 14 days from the date the notice is deposited in the mail.
(e) Upon failure of the prevailing party to comply with this Rule, all costs shall be waived.
(f) At or before the hearing the adverse party may file specific objections to claimed items of cost with a statement of the grounds for objection, ...