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Pogue v. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

July 1, 2019

JAMES H. POGUE PLAINTIFF
v.
NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge

         I. Introduction

         This case is before the Court on Plaintiff James H. Pogue's objections to Defendant Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company's (“NWML”) bill of costs. DN 154. NWML did not respond; the time to do so has passed. This matter is now ripe for review.

         II. Background

         On March 7, 2018, this Court granted NWML's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff unsuccessfully appealed to the Sixth Circuit. NWML submitted a bill of costs in the amount of $6, 095.20. DN 151.

         Plaintiff objects to NWML's bill of costs arguing that the Court should deny the bill of costs based on Plaintiff's limited financial resources, or alternatively, to reduce the bill of costs to eliminate charges for services that were excessive, unreasonable, and/or unnecessary under 28 U.S.C. § 1920.

         III. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) provides that “costs-other than attorney's fees- shall be allowed to the prevailing party.” This “language creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs, but allows denial of costs at the discretion of the trial court.” Singleton v. Smith, 241 F.3d 534, 539 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting White & White, Inc. v. Am. Hosp. Supply Corp., 786 F.2d 728, 730 (6th Cir. 1986)). “The costs that courts may tax under Rule 54(d)(1) are confined to the costs itemized in 28 U.S.C. § 1920.” In re Cardizem CD Antitrust Litig., 481 F.3d 355, 359 (6th Cir. 2007). Under section 1920, a court may tax as costs the following: (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 under 28 U.S.C. § 1923; and (6) compensation for court appointed experts and interpreters, as well as costs for certain interpretative services. “Items proposed by winning parties as costs should always be given careful scrutiny.” Grogan v. United States, 341 F.2d 39, 43 (6th Cir. 1965).

         IV. Discussion

         A. Whether the Court should consider Plaintiff's limited financial resources

          First, Plaintiff requests this Court deny NWML's bill of costs entirely on the account of Plaintiff's limited financial resources. “[W]hen a party claims indigency, [the Sixth Circuit] requires a determination of his or her capacity to pay the costs assessed.” Sales v. Marshall, 873 F.2d 115, 120 (6th Cir. 1989) (concerning a pro se plaintiff's claim of inability to pay the costs taxed against him). The burden is upon the plaintiff to show that he is incapable, as a practical matter, of paying such costs. Jones v. Kolb, 84 Fed.Appx. 560, 561-62 (6th Cir. 2003).

         Plaintiff relies on the following testimony from his February 10, 2016 deposition to support his claim of indigency:

Q. Are you currently ...

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