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Morgal v. Williams

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 18, 2016

Allan K. Morgal, Plaintiff,
v.
Edward Williams, Defendant.

          ORDER

          CINDY K. JORGENSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is the Objection to Costs (Doc. 205) filed by Allan Kenneth Morgal (“Morgal”). A response has been filed (Doc. 208).

         Procedural History

         On April 13, 2016, a judgment pursuant to a jury verdict was entered in favor of Edward Williams (“Williams”) and against Morgal. On April 25, 2016, counsel for Williams submitted a Bill of Costs totaling $7, 196.94 and supporting documentation (Doc. 201). An exhibit to the response indicates that Morgal signed for mail from counsel's office on April 29, 2016 (Doc. 208-1). On May 13, 2016, the Clerk of Court entered a Judgment on Taxation of Costs in the amount of $7, 196.94 (Doc. 204). The docket sheet does not indicate that a copy of the Judgment on Taxation of Costs was mailed to Morgal by the Clerk of Court.

         On June 20, 2016, Morgal filed an Objection to Costs. Morgal asserts an improper service of the Bill of Costs (Doc. 201) was attempted (Doc. 205) and that he did not receive a copy of the Judgment on Taxation of Costs (Doc. 208). He also objects to the costs of the transcripts of Marc Puliuchio, Ramond Grewe, Cameron Lindsay and Eldon Vail as those persons were not used at trial nor did they have any knowledge of the incident.[1] Morgal further asserts that he is indigent (e.g., he is still paying his original filing fees).

         Williams responds that Morgal has not presented any information or argument that rebuts the presumption that Morgal received the Bill of Costs. Counsel for Williams mailed the Bill of Costs to Morgal on April 25, 2016 (Doc. 208), Exs. A and B. Further, Williams asserts his costs were reasonable and necessary.

         Notice of Bill of Costs

         The applicable rule states: “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54.1(d)(1). Here, Morgal does not dispute that Defendant sent the Bill of Costs to him. Rather, he only asserts he did not receive a copy from the Clerk of Court. However, the rule does not require that the notice be from the Clerk. The Court finds Morgal received adequate notice of the Bill of Costs.

         Further, although Morgal's Objection was not filed within seven days, the Court finds it appropriate to consider Morgal's Objection.

         Bill of Costs - Reasonable and Necessary

         28 U.S.C. § 1920 authorizes a judge or clerk of the district court to tax costs. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d), costs incurred by the prevailing party may be assessed against the losing party and may be taxed by the Clerk. Lai v. Nw. Mut. Life Ins. Co., No. 13-CV-05183-SI, 2015 WL 885035, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 27, 2015). “Unless a federal statute, [the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure], 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). “Rule 54(d) creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs to prevailing parties, and it is incumbent upon the losing party to demonstrate why the costs should not be awarded.” Stanley v. Univ. of S. Cal., 178 F.3d 1069, 1079 (9th Cir. 1999).

         Taxable costs are listed in 28 U.S.C. § 1920 as follows:

(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;
(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained ...

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