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Castro v. City of New York

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 17, 2014

STEVEN CASTRO, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, SPEAKER CHRISTINE C. QUINN, sued in her official and individual capacity, COUNCIL MEMBER JULISSA FERRERAS, sued in her official and individual capacity, and YOSELIN GENAO, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, sued in her official and individual capacity, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NINA GERSHON, District Judge.

Plaintiff Steven Castro brought this action seeking damages and equitable relief under various federal and state statutes, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws. By Opinion and Order filed June 5, 2014, this court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the federal claims and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state Jaw claims. Castro v. City of New York, ___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2014 WL 2582830 (E.D.N.Y, June 5, 2014). On June 6, 2014, the Clerk of Court entered judgment dismissing all of plaintiffs claims. (ECF Doc. # 56.) On June 30, 2014, defendants submitted a bill of costs pursuant to Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Local Civil Rule 54.1, and Sections 1920 and 1921 of Title 28 of the United States Code. ( See ECF Doc. #57.)

The taxable costs sought by defendants total $962.20, which amount is comprised entirely of expenses relating to preparation of transcripts from the examinations before trial of three individuals: the plaintiff, Steven Castro; plaintiffs uncle, non-party Charles Castro; and another non-party, one Sylvia Miranda. Defendants contend that each of these deposition transcripts was "necessary for use in preparing the papers supporting [their] motion for summary judgment" and that the associated costs are specifically authorized by the Local Rules. (Eichenholz Decl. ΒΆΒΆ 8-12.[1]) Defendants do not seek attorney's fees.

Plaintiff opposes the application for costs, arguing that "[d]efendants have failed to demonstrate the well-established standards necessary to recover costs; it has not been shown that the action was frivolous, unreasonable or groundless." (Plf. Opp. 3.[2]) Plaintiff further argues that the court should consider his limited financial resources.

For the reasons set forth below, the court is not persuaded by plaintiff's arguments. However, because it is not clear from the papers submitted that the defendants are entitled to all of the costs they seek, defendants are directed to submit additional information.

DISCUSSION

I. Applicable Law

Taxation of costs is governed by Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Civil Rule 54.1 of the Local Rules of the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York (the "Local Rules"). Federal 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). The Rule further provides that the clerk of court "may tax costs on 14 days' notice. On motion served within the next 7 days, the court may review the clerk's action." Id

The Local Rules provide some additional procedural guidelines. Rule 54.1 provides that a party seeking to recover costs must, within thirty days after the entry of final judgment, file and serve upon the other party, "a notice of taxation of costs indicating the date and time of taxation and annexing a bill of costs." Local Civ. R. 54.1(a). The time and date indicated must comply with the 14-day timeframe set by Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d), and the bill of costs must "include an affidavit that the costs claimed are allowable by Jaw, are correctly stated and were necessarily incurred. Bills for the costs shall be attached as exhibits." Id. Any objection must be filed on or before the date of taxation; if no objection is received, "any item listed may be taxed within the discretion of the Clerk." Local Civ. R. 54.J(b).

II. Analysis

A. The Imposition of Costs

Defendants filed their notice of taxation of costs on June 30, 2014 and set the date for taxation at July 18, 2014. ( See ECF Doc. #57.) Plaintiff filed his objection on July 17, 2014 and defendants responded by filing a "reply memorandum of law" on July 30, 2014. ( See ECF Docs. #59, 60.) Although the Federal Rule contemplates that the objecting party will seek court review by motion after the clerk has taxed the allowable costs, there is no reason for this court to await the clerk's determination before deciding the motion "because, once the objections are filed, the Court must decide the costs issue de novo regardless of the determination by the Clerk of the Court." Catalano v. Lynbrook Glass & Architectural Metals Corp., 2009 WL 4342507, at *2, n.1 (E.D.N.Y., Dec. 1, 2009); see also Howell v. NYC Leadership Academy, Inc., 2008 WL 5336891, at *3 (S.D.N.Y., Dec. 20, 2008) (deciding a motion for costs notwithstanding defendant's failure to comply with Local Rule 54.1). This court therefore exercises its discretion to "decide the cost question [it]self." Whitfield v. Scully, 241 F.3d 264, 269 (2d Cir. 2001) (alteration in original).

As stated, plaintiff argues against the imposition of costs because defendants have not shown that this action was "frivolous, unreasonable or groundless." However, it is neither the defendants' burden to make such a showing, nor is the standard cited by the plaintiff relevant to an application for costs.

First, "[g]iven the language of Rule 54(d), an award against the losing party is the normal rule obtaining in civil litigation, not an exception.... For this reason, the losing party has the burden to show that costs should not be imposed.'" Pierre v. City of New York, 2008 WL 1700441, at *2 (E.D.N.Y., ...


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