United States District Court, E.D. New York
January 8, 2004.
RAJESHWAR SINGH YADAV Plaintiff -v.- BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY, and BROOKHAVEN SCIENCE ASSOCIATES, Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARTHUR SPATT, District Judge
The plaintiff pro se Rajeshwar Singh Yadav ("Yadav" or the "plaintiff")
brought this action against his employer Brookhaven National Laboratory
("BNL") and Brookhaven Science Associates ("BSA") (collectively, the
"defendants") alleging that he was denied a promotion and subjected to
unequal terms and conditions of employment based upon his race and
national origin in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. On August 2, 2000,
the Court dismissed all of the claims in the complaint except the Section
against the defendants for alleged acts occurring after January 28,
Thereafter, the plaintiff filed three amended complaints. On November
30, 2001, the Court dismissed all of the claims in the third-amended
complaint except the Section 1981 claim against the defendants. In May
2002, a jury trial was held. On May 14, 2002, after completion of all the
evidence in the case, the Court granted the defendants' motion for
judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of
On May 31, 2002, the Court memorialized the May 14, 2002 decision in a
written order noting that: (1) the defendants proffered a legitimate,
non-race based reason for not promoting the plaintiff; (2) the plaintiff
did not suffer an adverse employment action; (3) the plaintiff's salary,
on the low end of the scale, was insufficient to show discrimination
based on race or national origin; and (4) incidents in which the
plaintiff was annoyed or irritated were insufficient to prove
discrimination. Yadav v. Brookhaven Nat'l Lab., 204 F. Supp.2d 509,
518-522 (E.D.N.Y. 2002).
On June 18, 2002 the plaintiff moved for reconsideration of the Court's
decision to dismiss his case. While this motion was pending, on July 1,
2002, the defendants submitted a Notice of Taxation of Costs to the Court
pursuant to Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (" Fed.R.Civ.
P."), requesting that costs be taxed in the amount of $26,210.20.
Thereafter, on March 8, 2003, Yadav's motion for reconsideration was
denied by the Court on the basis that the plaintiff failed to point to
controlling decisions or data that the Court overlooked.
Presently before the Court is the plaintiff's motion to amend the March
8, 2003 order so as to state that each party bears the cost of its own
litigation. Rule 59(e) governs motions to alter or amend judgments. This
rule states that "any motion to alter or amend a judgment shall be filed
no later than 10 days after entry of the judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(e). The Court denied the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration on
March 8, 2003. This order was entered by the Clerk of the Court on March
11, 2003. Therefore, in order to comply with Rule 59(e), the plaintiff
had until March 25, 2003 to file a motion to amend the judgment. Because
the plaintiff filed this motion on March 25, 2003, the plaintiff's motion
However, no grounds exist to grant this motion. A motion to alter or
amend a judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) is appropriate when a court
overlooks "controlling decisions or factual matters that were put before
it on the underlying motion and which, if examined, might reasonably have
led to a different result." Saunders v. Edwards, 03 Civ. 1087, 2003 WL
23021948, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. December 22, 2003) (internal quotation omitted)
(citing Eisemann v. Greene, 204 F.3d 393, 395 n. 2 (2d Cir. 2000)).
Here, the plaintiff fails to point to controlling decisions or data that
the Court overlooked in its March 8, 2003 order.
In construing the pro se plaintiff's motion liberally, see Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21, 92 S.Ct. 594 (1972), this motion may also
be interpreted as an opposition to the defendant's Notice of Taxation of
Costs. See Local Civ. Rule 54.1(b) (providing that "a party objecting to
any cost item shall serve objections in writing prior to or at the time
taxation"). Rule 54(d)(1) provides that "costs other than attorney's fees
shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court
otherwise directs." Because the Court granted the defendants' motion for
judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50, the defendants are the
prevailing parties in this case.
The permissive wording of Rule 54 provides the Court with broad
discretion on whether to tax costs against a losing party. Brodie v.
Pressley, No. 95 Civ, 1197, 1999 WL 691960, at * 2 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 7,
1999). The presumption that the prevailing party will be awarded costs
cannot be overcome absent a showing of good cause for doing so. Vails v.
Police Dep't of the City of New York, 96 Civ. 5283, 1999 WL 970490, at *1
(S.D.N.Y. Oct. 22, 1999) (ordering the plaintiff to pay the prevailing
defendant's costs in an employment discrimination case.).
Among the factors to consider are the indigence of the losing party and
whether he pursued the action in good faith. See Brodie v. Pressley, 1999
WL 691960, at * 2; Vails v. Police Dep't of the City of New York, 1999 WL
970490, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 22, 1999) (The losing party's ability to pay
is a consideration for the court in reviewing the taxation of costs.).
However, a party's indigence does not preclude an award of costs. See
Glucover v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of New York, Inc., No. 91 Civ. 6331,
1996 WL 1998, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 3, 1996) (The court assessed costs
against a plaintiff who proceeded pro se and in forma pauperis in a Title
VII employment discrimination law suit.). Therefore, costs may be imposed
on a pro se plaintiff. Id.
The Court finds that the plaintiff fails to demonstrate good cause for
deviating from the general rule that the prevailing party will be awarded
costs. In addition, the plaintiff does not claim that he is indigent.
Rather, the plaintiff merely disputes the nature and amount of the
defendants' expenditures. Thus, there is no reason to depart from the
general practice of awarding costs to the prevailing party. However, the
Court notes that the defendants' request that their costs be taxed in the
amount of $26, 280.20 may be excessive.
Based on the foregoing, it is hereby
ORDERED, that the plaintiff's motion to amend the Court's March 8, 2003
judgment and his objection to the defendants' notice of taxation of costs
is DENIED without prejudice; and it is further
ORDERED, that the Clerk of the Court is directed to determine the
amount of taxable costs incurred by the defendants in their successful
defense of this action using the guidelines set forth in Rule 54.1 of the
Local Rules of the United States District Courts for the Southern and
Eastern Districts of New York; and it is further
ORDERED, that any party may serve a motion within 5 days from the date
taxation requesting that the Court review the Clerk of the Court's
determination of taxable costs pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1).
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