United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Joseph Trotta moves the Court for a review of the Clerk's
taxation of costs in favor of defendants Cajun Conti, LLC,
and Cajun Bourbon, LLC. For the following reasons, the Court
denies plaintiff's motion.
Trotta worked at two restaurants owned by defendants in New
Orleans, Louisiana. On August 3, 2014, Defendants terminated
Trotta's employment. On April 14, 2015, Trotta filed suit
alleging that he was fired in retaliation for protected
activity in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.
More specifically, Trotta alleged that he was fired for
giving a statement to the EEOC regarding defendants'
termination of another employee.
January 13, 2017, the Court granted defendants' motion
for summary judgment because Trotta failed to establish a
prima facie case of retaliation. Trotta v. Cajun
Conti, LLC, No. 15-1186, 2017 WL 131551 (E.D. La. Jan.
13, 2017). On May 26, 2017, the Chief Deputy Clerk issued a
taxation of costs in the amount of $3, 233.85 against Trotta
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
54(d). Plaintiff now moves the Court for a review
of the taxation of costs.
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) states that “[u]nless a
federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides
otherwise, costs . . . should be allowed to the prevailing
party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d). “A district court has
wide discretion whether to award costs to the prevailing
party.” Energy Mgmt. Corp. v. City of
Shreveport, 467 F.3d 471, 483 (5th Cir. 2006) (citations
omitted). On motion and within seven days of the taxation of
costs, the Clerk's action may be reviewed by this Court.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d). But there is a “strong
presumption” contained in Rule 54 that the prevailing
party will be awarded costs. Pacheco v. Mineta, 448
F.3d 783, 793 (5th Cir. 2006).
are the prevailing party in this case. The Fifth Circuit has
identified the following circumstances which, if present, may
justify denial of costs to the prevailing party: “(1)
the losing party's limited financial resources; (2)
misconduct by the prevailing party; (3) close and difficult
legal issues presented; (4) substantial benefit conferred on
the public; and (5) the prevailing party's enormous
financial resources.” Pacheco, 448 F.3d at
794. An additional factor the Fifth Circuit considers is
whether “the losing party prosecuted the action in good
faith.” Id. But good faith may not be the sole
reason for denying costs to the prevailing party.
Id. at 795.
the Pacheco factors, the court finds that Trotta has
not rebutted Rule 54(d)'s strong presumption that
defendants should be awarded costs. Although the Court
recognized that Trotta brought his claims in good faith in
its order denying defendants an award of attorney's fees,
see Trotta v. Cajun Conti, No. 15-1186, 2017 WL
785310, at *2 (E.D. La. Mar. 1, 2017), good faith alone does
not warrant a denial of taxation of costs. See
Pacheco, 448 F.3d at 794-95 (noting that good faith
alone is not sufficient to deny costs because “[i]f the
awarding of costs could be thwarted every time the
unsuccessful party is a normal, average party and not a
knave, Rule 54(d)(1) would have little substance
remaining”) (citation omitted). Likewise, Trotta's
limited financial resources, in addition to proceeding in
good faith, is not enough to defeat Rule 54's
presumption. See Id. at 794 (stating that good faith
and one other factor may not be enough to deny costs);
U.S. ex rel. Long v. GSDMIdea City, L.L.C., 807 F.3d
125, 129 (“[W]e have never held that the limited
resources of the losing party provides a basis for denying
the prevailing party its costs.”) (internal quotation
and citation omitted); Moore v. Citgo Ref. and Chem. Co.,
L.P., 735 F.3d 309, 320 (5th Cir. 2013) (holding that
awarding costs based on the comparison of the parties'
finances “would not only undermine the presumption that
Rule 54(d)(1) creates in prevailing parties' favor, but
it would also undermine the foundation of the legal system
that justice is administered to all equally, regardless of
wealth or status”) (quoting Cherry v. Champion
Int'l Corp., 186 F.3d 442, 448 (4th Cir. 1999));
see also Patterson v. Celadon Trucking Servs., Inc.
No. 09-1, 2010 WL 1424288, at *2 (W.D. Tex. Apr.
Trotta relies on Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC,
434 U.S. 412 (1978), to contend that imposing costs against
unsuccessful Title VII plaintiffs could discourage potential
litigants with meritorious claims from pursuing civil rights
actions. Christiansburg dealt specifically
with attorneys' fees, and has not been extended to
taxation of costs. See Washington v. Patlis, 916
F.2d 1036, 1040 (5th Cir. 1990) (“Title VII does not
make an exception to the general rule that federal courts may
award costs to the prevailing party under Rule
54(d).”). Accordingly, the Clerk's taxation of
costs will not be vacated against the defendants.