United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, CHIEF JUDGE
awarded judgment in favor of Plaintiff Brian Vukadinovich on
one of three claims after a five-day trial. Vukadinovich now
seeks the taxation of costs in the amount of $11, 387.04.
Defendants Hanover Community School Corporation and Former
Superintendent Carol A. Kaiser object to the award of costs
on the ground that Vukadinovich cannot be considered the
prevailing party. In the event that those arguments are
unavailing, the Defendants also registered specific
objections to some of Vukadinovich's costs. As detailed
below, Vukadinovich's requests for costs will be granted,
but with modifications.
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) governs the award of costs.
Costs other than attorneys' fees are allowed as a matter
of course to the prevailing party unless the Court directs
otherwise. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). While the district court
has wide discretion in awarding costs, Rule 54(d)(1) creates
a “presumption in favor of a cost award” as long
as the costs are statutorily authorized. Cefalu v.
Village of Elk Grove, 211 F.3d 416, 427 (7th Cir. 2000);
see also Beamon v. Marshall & Isley Trust Co.,
411 F.3d 854, 864 (7th Cir. 2005) (holding that
“[t]here is a presumption that the prevailing party
will recover costs, and the losing party bears the burden of
an affirmative showing that taxed costs are not
Seventh Circuit has held that “the ‘prevailing
party' is the party who prevails ‘as to the
substantial part of the litigation.'” First
Commodity Traders, Inc. v. Heinold Commodities, Inc.,
766 F.2d 1007, 1015 (7th Cir. 1985) (quoting Best Medium
Publishing Company, Inc. v. National Insider, Inc., 385
F.2d 384, 386 (7th Cir. 1967). In determining whether a party
prevailed as to the substantial part of the litigation,
courts look to the substance of the litigation, the relief
sought, and the relief awarded, not necessarily the
number of claims on which a party prevailed.
“[W[hen one party gets substantial relief it
‘prevails' even if it doesn't win on every
claim.” Slane v. Mariah Boats, Inc., 164 F.3d
1065, 1068 (7th Cir. 1999) (finding that a plaintiff that
prevailed on two of four claims and got $225, 000 from the
jury prevailed within the meaning of Rule 54(d)(1)); see
also Smart v. Local 702 Intern. Broth. of Elec. Workers,
573 F.3d 523, 525 (7th Cir. 2009) (“A party prevails
for purposes of Rule 54(d) when a final judgment awards it
54(d) allows a prevailing party to recover only those costs
listed in 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Crawford Fitting Co. v.
J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 441-42 (1987);
Winniczek v. Nagelberg, 400 F.3d 503, 504 (7th Cir.
2005). These costs include:
(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 . . .;
(6) Compensation of court appointed experts . . . .
28 U.S.C. § 1920. Before assessing costs, the court must
determine (1) “that the expenses are allowable cost
items, ” and (2) “that the amounts are reasonable
and necessary.” Northbrook Excess & Surplus
Ins. Co. v. Procter & Gamble Co., 924 F.2d 633, 642
(7th Cir. 1991).
argue that Vukadinovich should not be awarded costs under
Rule 54(d)(1) because he did not prevail “as to the
substantial part of the litigation” because he only
prevailed on his Due Process claim, and the jury found
against him on his age discrimination and retaliation claims.
[DE 420 at 1-2.] But the substance of this litigation can be
boiled down to a single question, “Was Vukadinovich
treated fairly when he was terminated?” The jury
answered a resounding “NO” when it found in
Vukadinovich's favor on his Due Process claim and awarded
him $203, 840.89 in damages. So while ...