United States District Court, D. Nevada
M. Navarro, United States District Judge.
before the Court is Plaintiff Alexis Gurshin's
(“Plaintiff's”) Motion for Re-Taxation of
Costs, (ECF No. 218). Defendant Bank of America, N.A.
(“Defendant”) filed a Response, (ECF No. 221).
Plaintiff filed a Reply, (ECF No. 222). For the reasons
discussed below, the Court GRANTS in part
and DENIES in part Plaintiff's Motion.
case arises from Plaintiff's alleged subjection to gender
discrimination and retaliation while working at Bank of
America. (See Compl. ¶¶ 14-72). Defendant
prevailed in the case when the Court granted its Motion for
Summary Judgment. (See Order, ECF No. 205). As the
prevailing party, Defendant filed a Bill of Costs for $30,
328.44 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d).
(Bill of Costs, ECF No. 207). Plaintiff filed an Objection,
(ECF No. 208), arguing that she should not be taxed costs
because of her limited financial resources, the disparity of
resources between the parties, and the chilling effect taxing
costs would have on future civil rights actions. (Objection
4:1-9:18). Plaintiff also made specific objections to some
requested costs. (Id. 9:19-12:13). After deducting
costs that are not recoverable under the local rules, the
Clerk taxed costs in the amount of $27, 668.95. (See
Costs Taxed, ECF No 215); (see also Clerk's
Memorandum Regarding Taxation of Costs, ECF No. 216).
now moves for the Court to re-tax costs because of
“Plaintiff's limited financial resources, the vast
financial disparity between employee Plaintiff and Defendant
employer, a huge national bank, and the chilling effect such
an award would have on future plaintiffs seeking to vindicate
their rights through Title VII.” (Motion for
Re-Taxation of Costs (“Motion”) 2:8-11, ECF No.
responds that the Court should award costs because the case
is not of national importance, the issues presented in the
case were not close or difficult, and any chilling effect the
award produces would only chill frivolous litigation. (Resp.
2:18-3:1). Defendant also argues that Plaintiff is able to
pay the taxed costs because “she is gainfully employed,
has been gainfully employed for the past five years, and
recently purchased her own home.” (Id. 2:17-
costs other than attorney fees “should be allowed to
the prevailing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d); see
also LR 54-1(a) (“Unless the court orders
otherwise, the prevailing party is entitled to reasonable
costs.”). But, upon motion, the court has discretion to
refuse to award costs. Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T.
Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 442 (1987). The motion
“must specify the particular portions of the
clerk's ruling to which the party objects, and only those
portions of the clerk's ruling will be considered by the
court.” LR 54-12(b). The court may only consider
“the same papers and evidence submitted to the
clerk” when ruling on the motion. Id.
court may deny costs for any appropriate reason. Escriba
v. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc., 743 F.3d 1236, 1247 (9th
Cir. 2014). Appropriate reasons include: “(1) the
substantial public importance of the case, (2) the closeness
and difficulty of the issues in the case, (3) the chilling
effect on future similar actions, (4) the plaintiff's
limited financial resources, and (5) the economic disparity
between the parties.” Id. at 1247-48. The
preceding list is not an “exhaustive list of good
reasons for declining to award costs, but rather a starting
point for analysis.” Id. (internal quotations
and citations omitted). If the plaintiff has the ability to
pay the award, “the congressional goal of discouraging
frivolous litigation demands that full fees be levied.”
Faraci v. Hickey Freeman Co., 607 F.2d 1025, 1028
(2d Cir. 1979).
considering the reasons enumerated above, the Court concludes
that the costs taxed to Plaintiff should be substantially
reduced. The first and third reasons weigh in Plaintiff's
favor. Plaintiff's case inherently carries public
importance because of the public values at stake in Title VII
cases. See Coulter v. Newmont Gold Co., 873 F.Supp.
394, 397 (D. Nev. 1994). Awarding the full costs requested
would risk chilling future Title VII actions by prospective
plaintiffs of modest means. Id. See also Escriba v.
Foster Poultry Farms, Inc., 743 F.3d 1236, 1248 (9th
Cir. 2014) (explaining that the district court did not abuse
its discretion by concluding that awarding costs would deter
future FMLA actions from low-wage earners).
Plaintiff has the ability to pay some of Defendant's
costs, Plaintiff's limited resources and the economic
disparity between the parties dissuade the Court from taxing
almost $30, 000 worth of costs against her. A court may
appropriately decline to tax costs or reduce the costs taxed
when the full award would subject the losing party to
substantial financial hardship. See Escriba, 743
F.3d at 1247-48 (concluding that the district court did not
abuse its discretion in denying costs when the amount
exceeded the total income of the plaintiff); Stanley v.
Univ. of S. California, 178 F.3d 1069, 1079-80 (9th Cir.
1999) (“Stanley's argument that payment of the
costs would render her indigent is compelling.”);
Coulter, 873 F.Supp. at 397 (awarding $4, 200
instead of nearly $7, 000 because the full award “would
be a severe hardship, ” and the plaintiff could pay the
full award “but only by selling her trailer.”);
Braxton v. United Parcel Serv., 148 F.R.D. 527, 529
(E.D. Penn. 1993) (declining to award full costs where
plaintiff demonstrated that doing so would cause
“significant financial hardship.”). Plaintiff
earns roughly $30, 000 per year. (Obj. 6:24). While Plaintiff
is not indigent, she has limited financial resources, and
taxing all of Defendant's recoverable costs may require
her to sell her home or file for bankruptcy (See
Objection 6:16-7:9, 8:13-15).
the disparity between the parties' financial resources
encourages the Court to reduce the costs taxed to a more
equitable sum. See Coulter, 873 F.Supp. at 397
(“there is a great disparity in financial resources
between the parties. Newmont will not be financially crippled
by a failure to award full costs in this case; Coulter will
be crippled if full costs are awarded.”). See also
Braxton, 148 F.R.D. at 529 (“In contrast to
[plaintiff], UPS is said by Forbes magazine to be
the third largest private company in America . . . . and will
suffer little from a reduction in their recovery.”).
The disparity in the parties' resources is substantial.
Plaintiff earns roughly $30, 000 a year and Defendant is one
of the largest banks in the country. (Obj. 8:4-15).
the Court declines to reduce the costs taxed to zero. Courts
often reduce an award of costs where Plaintiff has some
ability to pay. See Coulter, 987 F.Supp. at 396-98
(reducing costs from just under $7, 000 to $4, 200);
Braxton, 148 F.R.D. at 529-29 (reducing costs taxed
from over $16, 000 to $5, 000). Plaintiff is not indigent and
has some discretionary income. (See Motion 5:6-18).
The Court wishes to avoid chilling civil rights litigation by
awarding substantial costs against unmeritorious plaintiffs
who act in good faith. However, the Court is mindful that
declining to award costs may encourage frivolous litigation
and needlessly vexatious tactics because plaintiffs of modest
means would have little incentive to avoid such behavior.
Plaintiff litigated this case intensely despite the case not
being particularly close when the Court ruled on
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. ...