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Island Operating Co. Inc. v. Jewell

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

March 6, 2017

ISLAND OPERATING CO., INC.
v.
JEWELL, ET AL.

          HANNA, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          RULING ON COSTS AND FEES

          REBECCA F.DOHERTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In its Trial Ruling, this Court noted plaintiff Island Operating Co. ("Island") had requested costs and reasonable attorneys' fees, and, therefore, this Court deferred final ruling and issuance of a judgment, and requested additional briefing from the parties as to an award of costs and fees against the government in a matter such as this one. [Rec. Doc. 28, p. 18-20] The Court has received the parties' responsive briefs [Rec. Docs, 29');">29');">29');">29');">29');">29');">29');">29-30] and hereby issues its ruling as to costs and fees, and adopts and incorporates its previous ruling [Rec. Doc. 28] herein.

         Island primarily argues that it is entitled to costs and fees by operation of the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA") and by way of this Court's equitable powers. The defendants oppose a discretionary award of costs, argue the United States has not waived its sovereign immunity as to a fee award in a manner applicable to this matter, and alternatively argue that the EAJA and common law do not support a fee award. For the reasons given below, this Court grants Island's request for those costs enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920, and denies Island's request for attorneys' fees.

         I.COSTS

         A. ISLAND'S ARGUMENT

         Island seeks costs and attorneys' fees, and argues this Court should exercise its discretion to award costs on the basis of the EAJA. [Rec. Doc. 29');">29');">29');">29');">29');">29');">29');">29, p. 5] Island points to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1), which provides that "costs - other than attorney's fees - should be allowed to the prevailing party. But costs against the United States, its officers, and its agencies may be imposed only to the extent allowed by law." Island further argues that 28 U.S.C. § 2412(a)(1), part of the EAJA, grants courts discretion to award the costs enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920[1] to a prevailing party in a civil action against the United States, and requests that this Court so exercise that discretion. [Rec. Doc. 29');">29');">29');">29');">29');">29');">29');">29, p. 5]

         B. DEFENDANTS'ARGUMENT

         The defendants agree that, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P 54(d) and the EAJA, this Court has discretion to award those costs enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920, but opposes any discretionary award of costs to Island. [Rec. Doc. 30, pp. 1-2]

         C. DISCUSSION

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1) provides, in part, that "Costs - other than attorney's fees -should be allowed to the prevailing party... [b]ut costs against the United States, its officers, and its agencies may be imposed only to the extent allowed by law." 28 U.S.C.A. § 2412(a)(1) provides, in part, that:

Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, a judgment for costs, as enumerated in [28 U.S.C. § 1920], but not including the fees and expenses of attorneys, maybe awarded to the prevailing party in any civil action brought by or against the United States or any agency or any official of the United States acting in his or her official capacity in any court having jurisdiction of such action.

         The EAJA, therefore, gives courts discretion to award costs against the United States. Fed.R.Civ.p. 54, however, creates "a strong presumption" in favor of awarding costs to a prevailing party, and "a district court may neither deny nor reduce a prevailing party's request for costs without first articulating some good reason for doing so."[3] A party who has obtained some relief usually will be regarded as the prevailing party, even if the party does not prevail on all claims.[4]

         Per this Court's Trial Ruling [Rec. Doc. 28], Island has been granted substantial relief, and therefore, this Court finds Island is the prevailing party in this matter. Recognizing the strong presumption in favor of awarding costs to a prevailing party in the Fifth Circuit, this Court hereby GRANTS Island those costs enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920, viz. "(1) fees of the clerk and marshal; (2) fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case; (3) fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses; (4) fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case; (5) docket fees under [28 U.S.C. ยง 1923]; and (6) compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special ...


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