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Marom v. Town of Greenburgh

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 10, 2017

MICHAEL MAROM, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF GREENBURGH, POLICE OFFICER JOHN HERIGHTY, POLICE OFFICER KEIRA KNOESEL, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          NELSON S. ROMAN, United States District Judge

         On March 17, 2017, this Couit granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiffs remaining claims of false arrest and malicious prosecution. (ECF No. 160.) On March 28, 2017, Defendants sought the payment of costs associated with deposition transcripts, totaling $2, 596.12, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d). (ECF No. 162, Ex. 1.) On April 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for disallowance arguing primarily that, in the Court's discretion, the costs should be denied due to the "likelihood" that the costs had already been covered by the Town's insurance carrier and due to Plaintiffs in forma pauperis status. (ECF No. 164, ¶¶ 3, 5.) The Court directed Defendants to respond with ten business days and Plaintiff to reply to such response within seven business days thereafter. (See ECF No. 165.) Defendants submitted an opposition (ECF Nos. 168, 169), but Plaintiff did not submit a reply.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) states "[u]nless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs-other than attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing party." "[Tlhe Supreme Court has held that the term 'costs' includes only the specific items enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920." Whitfield v. Scully, 241 F.3d 264, 269 (2d Cir. 2001). Pursuant to § 1920, "[a] judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax as costs, .. [f]ees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case[.]" 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2) (emphasis added). More specifically, under this District's Local Rules, "[u]nless otherwise ordered by the Court, the original transcript of a deposition, plus one copy, is taxable if the deposition was used or received in evidence at trial. .. [or] if they were used by the Court in ruling on a motion for summary judgment or other dispositive substantive motion." Citigroup Glob. Markets, Inc. v. Abbar, 63 F.Supp.3d 360, 361-62 (S.D.N.Y. 2014) (transcription costs allowed but not costs for deposition videos).

         "[T]axing costs pursuant to Rule 54(d)(1), 28 U.S.C. § 1920, and Local Rule 54.1 in favor of the prevailing party is the rule, not the exception, in civil litigation." Balance Point Divorce Funding, LLC v. Scrantom, 305 F.R.D. 67, 70-71 (S.D.N.Y. 2015) (citing Whitfield, 241 F.3d at 270). Therefore, it is well within the Court's discretion "to grant costs for any or all of the transcripts" claimed by the prevailing party. See Balance Point, 305 F.R.D. at 77 (declining to tax deposition costs where "none of the deposition transcripts at issue were used on any actual motion or response to a motion"); see also Dattner v. Conagra Foods, Inc., 458 F.3d 98, 100 (2d Cir. 2006) ("[t]he decision to award costs pursuant to Rule 54(d)(1) and Local Rule 54.1 rests within the sound discretion of the district court").

         '" [T]he losing party has the burden to show that costs should not be imposed' and, ' [i]n light of the general rule, when a prevailing parly is denied costs, a district court must articulate its reasons for doing so."' Balance Point, 305 F.R.D. at 70-71 (citing Whitfield, 241 F.3d at 270), "Among the equitable factors a court may consider in exercising discretion are the plaintiffs indigence and financial hardship." Burchette v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., Ho. 08 Civ. 8786 (RMB) (THK), 2010 WL 3720834, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 22, 2010). But "in forma pauperis status does not automatically excuse [a plaintiff] from paying costs." Cucuta v. N.Y. City, 25 F.Supp.3d 400, 420 (S.D.N.Y. 2014).

         Here, considering the arguments set forth by the parties, costs will be allowed. Plaintiffs case was not frivolous, but he ultimately did not prevail. Although the Court did not need to rely on much more than the videotape of the events at issue to understand how the events unfolded, the deposition transcripts were submitted in conjunction with the Defendants' successful motion for summary judgment. Defendants also make a strong showing that Plaintiff is not truly indigent or necessarily deserving of in forma pauperis status. As such the balance of the equities leads the Court to the conclusion that the costs are appropriately taxed against Plaintiff. Nevertheless, in exercising the Court's equitable power, the costs requested will be reduced by half. Cf DiBella v. Hopkins,407 F.Supp.2d 537, 541 (S.D.N.Y. 2005) (costs for deposition used at trial allowed where witness "played a role generally in the events that led to the dispute, ...


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