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Peeples v. City of Detroit

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

June 17, 2019

Erick Peeples, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
City of Detroit, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER REGARDING COSTS

          SEAN F. COX UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this action, Plaintiffs asserted Title VII claims against their labor union, the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, Local 344, IAFF, AFL-CIO (“the Union”). This Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Union as to Plaintiffs' claims. As the prevailing party in this case, the Union filed a Bill of Costs seeking a total of $10, 334.87 in costs. After the Clerk of the Court taxed costs in the amount of $9, 302.17, both Plaintiffs and the Union filed objections. As explained below, the Court finds Plaintiffs' objections without merit and concludes that the Union should be awarded the full amount of costs sought.

         BACKGROUND

         On September 10, 2013, Plaintiffs filed this action asserting Title VII disparate-treatment race discrimination claims against: 1) the City of Detroit (“the City”); and 2) the Union.

         Following the close of discovery, each Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. This Court issued an Opinion & Order on January 26, 2017, wherein it granted both motions. (ECF No. 91). As to the City's motion, this Court concluded that Plaintiffs failed to present direct evidence to support their claims and that they also failed to establish a prima facie case under the circumstantial evidence approach, which includes a heightened burden in this reduction-in-force case. (Id. at 2). As to the Union's motion, this Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Union because Plaintiffs cannot establish that the Union breached its duty of fair representation to Plaintiffs which, under then-existing Sixth Circuit case law, they must do in order to proceed with a Title VII claim against the Union.

         After the Judgment was issued, the Union filed a Bill of Costs. (ECF Nos. 93 & 94). The Clerk of the Court taxed costs against Plaintiffs in the amount of $9, 302.17, less than the full amount requested by the Union. (ECF No. 95). Both Plaintiffs and the Union filed objections concerning costs. (ECF Nos. 96 & 97).

         In an Order issued on March 27, 2017, this Court addressed the objections and ruled that the Union should be awarded the entire amount of costs sought for deposition transcripts. (ECF No. 109). In doing so, this Court explained, in pertinent part:

Having reviewed the parties' objections, the Court concludes that the Union should be awarded the entire amount of costs sought for deposition transcripts.
“Rule 54(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that ‘costs shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs.' This language creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs, but allows denial of costs at the discretion of the trial court.” White & White, Inc. v. American Hosp. Supply Corp., 786 F.2d 728, 730 (6th Cir. 1986). Thus, the award of costs under Rule 54 is addressed to the court's discretion. Singleton v. Smith, 241 F.3d 534, 538 (6th Cir. 2001).
One allowable cost - the only one at issue here - is the cost of “[f]ees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case.” 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2).
“Ordinarily, the costs of taking and transcribing depositions reasonably necessary for the litigation are allowed to the prevailing party. Necessity is determined at the time of taking, and the fact that a deposition is not actually used at trial is not controlling.” Sales v. Marshall, 873 F.2d 115, 120 (6th Cir. 1989).
The five deposition transcripts that Plaintiffs take issue with are those of Vincent Fields, Ralph Glenn, Jr., Lee Jones, Jr., John King, and Marcus Holmes. The Court concludes that those deposition transcripts were reasonably necessary for the litigation.
Fields, Glenn, and Jones were named Plaintiffs and, as such, it was necessary for the Union to depose those men in order to defend against this lawsuit.
Moreover, district courts within this Circuit have “found that depositions cited by either party in support or defense of a motion are ‘reasonably necessary for the litigation' and, therefore, are taxable by the prevailing party under § 1920(2).” See, e.g., Lamar v. Oakland Cnty., 2008 WL 239830 at * 1 (E.D. Mich. 2008); see also Keweenaw Bay Indian Cmty. v. Rising, 2005 WL 3535124 at *2 (W.D. 2005). All of the transcripts at issue were submitted to the Court in connection with the Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment. That these transcripts were submitted by ...

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