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Shukh v. Seagate Technology, LLC

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 2, 2014

ALEXANDER M. SHUKH, Plaintiff,
v.
SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY, LLC, SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY, INC., SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY, UNKNOWN OWNERS AND ASSIGNEES, and SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY PLC, Defendants.

Constantine John Gekas, GEKAS LAW LLP, and James H. Kaster and Cristina Parra Herrera, NICHOLS KASTER, PLLP, for plaintiff.

Calvin L. Litsey, Chad Drown, Charles F. Knapp, and Elizabeth Cowan Wright, FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP, and Sarah E. Benjes, FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP, for defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR MODIFICATION OF COST JUDGMENT

JOHN R. TUNHEIM, District Judge.

Plaintiff Alexander M. Shukh filed this action in February 2010 against Defendants Seagate Technology, LLC, Seagate Technology, Inc., Seagate Technology, and Seagate Technology, PLC (collectively, "Seagate"), alleging numerous claims arising out of Shukh's ten-year employment with, and termination from, Seagate. On March 31, 2014, after years of litigation, the Court granted Seagate's motion for summary judgment, dismissing Shukh's then-remaining claims and entering final judgment in Seagate's favor. Shukh now brings a motion for review and modification of a cost judgment in the amount of $21, 799.67, entered by the Clerk of Court in favor of Seagate, seeking a reduction of $8, 861.92 in that judgment. The Court will grant Shukh's motion to the extent it seeks reduction of deposition costs for $552.15 expended to obtain additional copies of deposition exhibits. Because Shukh's other objections fail to show that the award of costs is inequitable under the circumstances, the Court will deny the remainder of Shukh's motion.

BACKGROUND

This "case has been the subject of extensive litigation spanning four years, involving nineteen hearings before the Court, more than fifty Court orders, and over 500 docket entries." Shukh v. Seagate Tech., LLC, Civ. No. 10-404, 2014 WL 1281518, at *1 (Mar. 31, 2014). On March 31, 2014, the Court granted Seagate's motion for summary judgment, which sought summary judgment on the four claims that remained out of the thirteen claims originally asserted by Shukh in his February 2010 complaint. See id. at *1, *28. The following day, the Court entered a final judgment in Seagate's favor. (J., Apr. 1, 2014, Docket No. 515.)

On May 1, 2014, Seagate filed a bill of costs seeking $22, 876.97 in costs associated with fees to the Clerk ($100), fees for printed or electronically recorded deposition transcripts ($21, 003.42), and fees for photocopies necessarily obtained for use in the case ($1, 773.55). (Bill of Costs, May 1, 2014, Docket No. 520.)[1] Seagate also provided an accompanying declaration and exhibits itemizing the costs and including invoices for the claimed expenses. (Third Decl. of Charles F. Knapp, Ex. A, May 1, 2014, Docket No. 521.)

Shukh filed timely objections to Seagate's bill of costs, seeking a reduction of $12, 154.42 in the claimed costs. (Objections at 6, May 14, 2014, Docket No. 523.) Specifically, Shukh objected to (1) Seagate's costs for both stenographic transcripts and video recordings of Shukh's deposition on the basis that Seagate could recover for only one of those costs ( id. at 2); (2) deposition charges for witnesses Bajorek, Gao, and Vas'ko on the basis that the invoices for those depositions were insufficiently detailed to ascertain whether all of the claimed costs were recoverable ( id. at 3-4); (3) costs for Shukh's depositions of Seagate's experts - Bajorek and Heitzman - and Seagate's depositions of Shukh's experts - Besikof, Grochowski, and Lahmeyer - as these depositions were investigative and were not used in dispositive motions or at trial ( id. at 4-5); and (4) costs for photocopying expenses incurred in creating courtesy copies for the Court ( id. at 5).

In response, Seagate reduced its request for costs related to the depositions of Bajorek, Gao, and Vas'ko by $1, 077.30, conceding that the initial request based on general, non-itemized invoices contained certain unrecoverable costs. (Resp. to Pl.'s Objection to Bill of Costs at 6, May 21, 2014, Docket No. 527.) Therefore, Seagate revised its bill of costs, seeking recovery of $21, 799.67. ( Id .; see also id., Ex. 1 at 7.) On June 6, 2014, the Clerk of Court entered a judgment, taxing costs in the amount of $21, 799.67 against Shukh. (Cost J., June 6, 2014, Docket No. 528.) The Clerk noted that with respect to the fees for deposition transcripts and the fees for photocopies Seagate had provided "[s]ufficient documentation and explanation" to justify the award. ( Id., Ex. 1.) Shukh has now filed a motion for review and modification of the cost judgment pursuant to Local Rule 54.3(c)(3) seeking a reduction in awarded costs of $8, 861.92. (Mot. for Review of Taxation of Costs, June 20, 2014, Docket No. 531; Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Review of Taxation of Costs at 2, June 20, 2014, Docket No. 532.)

ANALYSIS

I. STANDARD GOVERNING COST JUDGMENTS

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 provides that "[u]nless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs - other than attorney's fees - should be allowed to the prevailing party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). Upon the filing of a verified bill of costs by the prevailing party, the Clerk of Court is authorized to tax certain costs against the losing party. Id.; D. Minn. LR 54.3(c)(1), (2). These costs include, among others, "[f]ees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case, " and "[f]ees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case." 28 U.S.C. ยง 1920. "Section 1920 imposes rigid controls on cost-shifting in federal courts, and absent explicit statutory or contractual authorization for the taxation of the expenses [in question], federal courts are bound by the limitations set out in section 1920." Brisco-Wade v. Carnahan, 297 F.3d 781, 782 (8th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks omitted). Within fourteen days after the Clerk taxes costs, a party may seek review of the Clerk's cost judgment with the Court. D. Minn. LR 54.3(c)(3)(A).

"A prevailing party is presumptively entitled to recover all of its costs, " 168th & Dodge, LP v. Rave Reviews Cinemas, LLC, 501 F.3d 945, 958 (8th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted), and "[t]here is no requirement under Rule 54 that a district court provide a detailed review or analysis of every item of cost it awards, " Craftsmen Limousine, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 579 F.3d 894, 896-97 (8th Cir. 2009). Furthermore "[w]hen an expense is taxable as a cost... there is a strong presumption that a prevailing party shall recover it in full measure.'" Concord Boat Corp. v. Brunswick Corp., 309 F.3d 494, 498 (8th Cir. 2002) (quoting In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 221 F.3d 449, 462, 468 (8th Cir. 2000)). "The losing party bears the burden of making the showing that an award is inequitable under the circumstances.'" Id. (quoting In re Paoli, 221 F.3d at 462-63); cf. 168th & Dodge, LP, 501 F.3d at 958 (explaining in the context of appellate review of a cost judgment that "[t]he losing party ...


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