United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
KENNETH B. GAINES
H.L. Perez-Montes United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is a Motion to Review and Dismiss Costs filed by
Plaintiff Kenneth B. Gaines (“Gaines”) (Doc.
131). The Clerk of Court taxed costs submitted by Defendant
Techline, Inc. (“Techline”) against Gaines as the
losing party in this action (Doc. 130). Gaines's motion
(Doc. 131) is denied.
Gaines's Motion to Review and Dismiss
contends Techline's Bill of Costs should be reduced or
denied because he lost his primary source of income when he
was terminated from Techline, he was laid off from his church
as a clergyman because of poor health, and he has been unable
to obtain new employment (Doc. 131-2). Gaines contends he is
in financial distress and his unfortunate circumstances are
serious enough to justify the Court's exercise of its
discretion in dismissing or reducing the amount of costs to
be awarded to Defendants under Fed.R.Civ.P. rule 54(d)(1).
argue they are the prevailing party, this case has been
pending more than four years, and Gaines had a lot of time to
evaluate whether he wanted to continue to proceed and risk
being assessed costs in the event he was the non-prevailing
party (Doc. 134).
Law and Analysis
54(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
“costs shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing
party unless the court otherwise directs.” The trial
court has broad discretionary powers in taxing costs, but its
decision may be overturned if it abuses that discretion.
See Walters v. Roadway Exp., Inc., 557 F.2d 521, 526
(5th Cir. 1977) (citing Harrington v. Texaco, Inc.,
339 F.2d 814 (5th Cir. 1964), cert. denied, 381 U.S. 915
(1965)); see also Schwarz v. Folloder, 767 F.2d 125,
131 (5th Cir. 1985). While the rule does not prevent a trial
court from requiring a prevailing party to bear its own
costs, “the language of the rule reasonably bears the
intendment that the prevailing party is prima facie entitled
to costs and it is incumbent on the losing party to overcome
that presumption . . . (since) denial of costs . . . is in
the nature of a penalty for some defection on his part in the
course of the litigation.” See Walters, 557
F.2d at 526 (citing Popeil Brothers v. Schick Electric,
Inc., 516 F.2d 772, 775 (7th Cir. 1975)). Accordingly,
when a trial court exacts such a penalty, it should state
reasons for its decision. See Walters, 622 F.2d at
166 (prevailing defendant was taxed with come costs where
court had the “distinct impression” that the cost
of compiling the information was inflated by defendant's
lack of diligence, and plaintiffs' cost of litigation was
increased by the time and effort expended in this matter).
losing party's good faith is alone insufficient to
justify the denial of costs to the prevailing party. See
Pacheco v. Mineta, 448 F.3d 783, 795 (5th Cir. 2006),
cert. den., 549 U.S. 888 (2006); see also Wade v.
Peterson, 416 Fed.Appx. 354, 356 (5th Cir. 2011), cert.
den., 565 U.S. 987 (2011). In the Fifth Circuit, courts may,
but are not required to, excuse a losing party from paying
costs only if he brought suit in good faith and can
demonstrate at least one additional factor, such as:
(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 to the public;
(5) the prevailing party's enormous financial ...