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Walker v. Mod-U-Kraf Homes, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

July 17, 2015

ROBIN L. WALKER, Plaintiff,
v.
MOD-U-KRAF HOMES, LLC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Hon. Glen E. Conrad Chief United States District Judge

This case is presently before the court on the defendant's bill of costs, filed pursuant to Rule 54(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, the court will award the defendant costs in the amount of $2, 402.70.

Procedural History

On October 3, 2012, the plaintiff filed this action against the defendant, her former employer, claiming that she was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On December 19, 2013, the court granted summary judgment to the defendant on both claims.

The plaintiff appealed the court's decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. On December 23, 2014, the Fourth Circuit vacated the court's grant of summary judgment on the hostile work environment claim and remanded that claim for further proceedings. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment on the retaliation claim.

The hostile work environment claim proceeded to trial on April 21, 2015. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant on April 23, 2015, and the court entered the final judgment that same day.

The case is now before the court on the defendant's request for an award of costs in the amount of $5, 753.85. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.

Summary of the Applicable Law

"Under Rule 54(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, costs 'should be allowed to the prevailing party' unless a federal statute provides otherwise." Williams v. Metro Life Ins. Co., 609 F.3d 622, 636 (4th Cir. 2010) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1)). Thus, the rule "creates the presumption that costs are to be awarded to the prevailing party." Cherry v. Champion Int'l Corp.. 186 F.3d 442, 446 (4th Cir. 1999). Although the court has the discretion to deny an award of costs, it must "articulate some good reason for doing so, " in order to "overcome the presumption." Id. (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). "Among the factors that justify denying an award of costs are: (1) misconduct by the prevailing party; (2) the unsuccessful party's inability to pay the costs; (3) the excessiveness of the costs in a particular case; (4) the limited value of the prevailing party's victory; or (5) the closeness and difficulty of the issues decided." Ellis v. Grant Thornton LLP. 434 F.App'x 232, 235 (4th Cir. 2011). Although the unsuccessful party's "good faith in pursuing an action is a virtual prerequisite to receiving relief from the normal operation of Rule 54(d)(1), that party's good faith, standing alone, is an insufficient basis for refusing to assess costs against that party." Id. (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).

The particular expenses that may be taxed as costs under Rule 54(d)(1) are set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1920. That statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

A judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax as costs the following:
(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;
(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained ...

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