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Steeg v. Vilsack

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

June 2, 2017

JAMI W. STEEG, PLAINTIFF
v.
THOMAS J. VILSACK, SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack's Motion for Costs and Expert Fees, [DN 96.] Plaintiff Jami W. Steeg responded, [DN 97], and Defendant replied, [DN 98.] Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for adjudication, and for the following reasons, Defendant's motion, [DN 96], is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED AS MOOT IN PART.

         BACKGROUND

         This action came before the Court for a trial by jury on November 7, 2016. [DN 42 (Scheduling Order).] On November 10, 2016, the jury returned its verdict, finding that Defendant did not sexually harass or retaliate against Plaintiff. [See DN 90 (Jury Verdict).] The Court thereafter entered judgment in Defendant's favor. [DN 92 (Judgment).] Defendant timely submitted this verified motion for costs, accompanied by invoices of the various expenses. [See DN 96 (Verified Motion for Costs) and accompanying exhibits.] Defendant's trial counsel, Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Malloy, stated that the costs Defendant seeks were necessarily incurred in this case. [DN 96-2.] Defendant seeks to recover three costs in this matter: (1) the costs associated with deposing seven individuals who testified at trial, 2) the cost of obtaining transcripts of Plaintiff's phone recordings, and 3) witness attendance costs for six witnesses.[1] [See DN 96-1 at 1-7 (Memorandum in Support of Verified Motion for Costs).] Plaintiff objects, in part, to each of these items. [See DN 97 at 1-4 (Plaintiff's Response).]

         STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) provides that a prevailing party is generally allowed to recover its costs, other than attorney's fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1920 specifies what costs may be taxed. Any costs taxed by the Court must be allowed under § 1920, and must be reasonable and necessary in amount. See BDT Prods, Inc. v. Lenmark Int'l., Inc., 405 F.3d 415, 417 (6th Cir. 2005), abrogated on other grounds by Taniguchi v. Kan.Pac. Saipan, Ltd., 566 U.S. 560 (2012). There is a presumption in favor of awarding costs to the prevailing party in accordance with Rule 54(d). Singleton v. Smith, 241 F.3d 534, 539 (6th Cir. 2001); Ford v. FedEx Supply Chain Servs., Inc., 2009 WL 1585849, at *1 (W.D. Tenn. June 3, 2009).

         DISCUSSION

         1) Deposition Costs

         First, Defendant seeks reimbursement for deposition expenses for seven witnesses, including transcript fees, videography fees, court reporter fees, and index fees, for a total of $1, 758.85. Plaintiff objects solely to the costs associated with videotaping her two depositions, arguing that the videotapes were not played for the jury and were not necessary to the Defense's preparation of its case. [DN 97 at 1-2.] Therefore, Plaintiff objects to the $305 cost of videotaping her October 27, 2015 deposition and the $400 cost of videotaping her April 21, 2016 deposition. [Id. at 1.]

         Section 1920 allows for “[f]ees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case.” 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2). This Circuit accords with other circuit and district courts in recognizing that video deposition costs are taxable under § 1920 and that both stenographic transcripts and videotaped depositions, together, may be taxed. See, e.g., BDT Prods., 405 F.3d at 420 (citing Tilton v. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., 115 F.3d 1471, 1477 (10th Cir. 1997)) (holding that “videotape depositions are taxable under § 1920” and that “it was proper to tax both the cost of videotaping and transcribing the deposition”); Tilton, 115 F.3d 1477-78 (“[T]he costs associated with videotaping a deposition are taxable under [§ ] 1920(2) . . . “[T]he district court did not abuse its discretion in taxing the costs of both the preparation and transcription of the seven videotaped depositions.”); Baisden v. I'm Ready Prods., Inc., 793 F.Supp.2d 970, 978 (S.D. Tex. 2011) (awarding costs for both “videotaped and stenographic versions of the depositions of [eleven witnesses]” under § 1920(2)); Campbell v. Triad Fin. Corp., No. 5:07-CV-579, 2007 WL 4561525 (N.D. Ohio Dec. 21, 2007) (awarding costs for both videotaped depositions and stenographic transcripts of those depositions); Meredith v. Schreiner Transp., Inc., 814 F.Supp. 1004, 1005-06 (D. Kan. 1993) (same).

         Because the Court does not find the requested costs are unreasonable, and in light of the Sixth Circuit's decision in BDT Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc. and the trend among federal courts, the Court will follow the prevailing practice of allowing taxation of both videotaped depositions and stenographic transcripts. Therefore, the Court will overrule Plaintiff's objections to the video deposition expenses claimed by Defendant. See Hyland v. HomeServices of Am., Inc., 2013 WL 1904513 (W.D.Ky. May 7, 2013) (Russell, J.) (awarding costs for both videotaped depositions and stenographic transcripts of those depositions); Graham v. City of Hopkinsville, Ky., No. 5:12-CV-23, 2013 WL 4456685, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Aug. 16, 2013) (Russell, J.) (same).

         2) Transcripts of Phone Calls

          Second, Defendant seeks reimbursement of $339.00, which it paid to have transcriptions made of two telephone calls that were recorded and produced by Plaintiff. [DN 96-1 at 4-8.] Plaintiff objects to this cost, arguing that Defendant only played small portions of the recordings at trial and that the portions played were not hard to understand and therefore did not require transcripts. [DN 97 at 2.] In its reply, Defendant argues that it was necessary to transcribe the recordings during its trial preparation because many were of poor quality and therefore Defendant needed transcriptions to fully understand the contents of the conversations for potential use at trial. [DN 98 at 3.] Moreover, though it ultimately did not present the transcribed recordings at trial, the transcripts were marked as exhibits and provided to the jury during deliberations. [Id.] Based on the foregoing explanation, the Court agrees that, under § 1920, this cost was one for “transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case.” 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2). Because this cost was reasonable, the Court will allow it.

         3) ...


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