United States District Court, D. Oregon
TAMISHA RAE DUNN, Cross-Claimant/Cross-Defendant in Interpleader,
KRISTEENA ROBINSON, in her capacity as guardian ad litem to I.R., Cross-Defendant/Cross-Claimant in Interpleader.
OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Paul Papak United States Magistrate Judge
Insurance Company of America ("Prudential") filed
this action in interpleader against Tamisha Rae Dunn (the
domestic partner of Prudential's insured at the time of
the insured's decease), minor child I.R.
(Prudential's insured's minor daughter), and
Kristeena Robinson ("Robinson, " Prudential's
insured's former wife) in her capacity as guardian ad
litem to I.R. on May 10, 2016. By and through its
complaint in interpleader, Prudential alleged that prior to
his decease, its insured Sean Robinson (Prudential's
"insured") received life insurance coverage under a
group insurance plan (the "Plan") Prudential issued
to CUNA Mutual Group, the insured's then-employer.
Prudential further alleged that the insured designated I.R.
as his sole beneficiary in connection with Plan benefits on
October 15, 2015, that on or around November 5, 2015, the
insured expressed his intention to change that designation to
name Dunn as his sole beneficiary of Plan benefits, and that
on December 25, 2015, the insured died, triggering a $221,
000 life insurance benefit under the Plan. Prudential further
alleged that on December 31, 2015, the insured's former
employer made a claim on the Plan for the benefit on behalf
of I.R., and that Dunn made a similar claim, on her own
behalf, on February 8, 2016. By and through its complaint,
Prudential sought judicial resolution of the competing claims
for Plan benefits made on behalf of I.R. and Dunn. This court
has subject-matter jurisdiction over this interpleader action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335 and 29 U.S.C. §
11, 2016, Dunn filed a cross-claim against I.R. and Robinson
seeking this court's declaration that she (Dunn) is the
sole valid designee for purposes of determining the
beneficiary of the insured's Plan benefits, and on that
same day Robinson filed a cross-claim against Dunn on
I.R.'s behalf seeking this court's declaration that
I.R. is the sole valid designee. On August 3, 2016,
Prudential deposited money in the amount of the disputed life
insurance benefit into escrow for the benefit of the
insured's beneficiary, following which it was discharged
from this action. Effective March 17, 2016, 1 granted summary
judgment in Robinson's favor, declaring that I.R. was the
sole valid designee. Effective April 4, 2017, Dunn appealed
my decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
before the court are Robinson's bill (#43) of costs, by
and through which Robinson seeks award of her costs incurred
in connection with litigating this matter in the amount of
-$693.05, Robinson's motion (#45) for disbursement of
funds, by and through which Robinson seeks disbursement to
I.R. of the insurance benefits Prudential deposited into
escrow prior to being discharged from this action,
Robinson's motion (#46) for interpleader disbursement, by
and through which Robinson seeks the same relief sought in
connection with her motion for disbursement of funds, and
Dunn's motion (#49) to stay disbursement of the insurance
benefits to I.R. pending resolution of her appeal from this
court's decision. I have considered the motions, oral
argument on behalf of the parties, and all of the pleadings
and papers on file. For the reasons set forth below,
Robinson's bill (#43) of costs is granted, and Dunn is
directed to pay Robinson's costs in the requested amount
of $693.05, Robinson's motion (#45) for disbursement of
funds is denied as moot with leave to refife if appropriate
following resolution of Dunn's appeal, Robinson's
motion (#46) for interpleader disbursement is denied as moot,
and Dunn's motion (#49) to stay is granted, and further
proceedings in this action are stayed pending resolution of
Dunn's appeal from this court's judgment.
Bill of Costs
entitlement of a prevailing party in a federal lawsuit to
recover its costs, other than attorney fees, is governed by
Federal Civil Procedure Rule 54(d)(1). In relevant part, Rule
54(d)(1) provides that such costs "should be allowed to
the prevailing party" except where federal statute, the
rules of civil procedure, or a court order "provides
otherwise." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). "By its terms,
the rule creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs to
a prevailing party, but vests in the district court
discretion to refuse to award costs." Association of
Mexican-American Educators v. California, 231 F.3d 572,
591 (9th Cir. 2000), citing National Info. Servs., Inc.
v. TRW, Inc., 51 F.3d 1470, 1471 (9th Cir. 1995).
"A district court need not give affirmative reasons for
awarding costs; instead, it need only find that the reasons
for denying costs are not sufficiently persuasive to overcome
the presumption in favor of an award." Save Our
Valley v. Sound Transit, 335 F.3d 932, 945 (9th Cir.
2003). However, in the event a court declines to award a
prevailing party its costs under Rule 54(d)(1), its reasons
for so declining must be specified. See Association of
Mexican-American Educators, 231 F.3d at 591, quoting
Subscription Television, Inc. v. Southern Cal. Theatre Owners
Ass'n, 576 F.2d 230, 234 (9th Cir. 1978). It is the
burden of the party against whom costs are to be taxed to
establish grounds for denying award of costs. See Save
Our Valley, 335 F.3d at 944-945, citing National
Info. Servs. v. TRW, Inc., 51 F.3d 1470, 1471-1472 (9th
expenses that the district courts are authorized to tax as
costs under Rule 54(d)(1) are enumerated at 28 U.S.C. §
1920. See 28 U.S.C. § 1920; see also
Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S.
437, 441-445 (1987). Although the district courts have broad
discretion to allow or disallow a prevailing party to recoup
the ordinary costs of litigation, the court may not rely on
that discretion to tax expenses beyond those enumerated at
Section 1920. See id.; see also Frederick v. City of
Portland, 162 F.R.D. 139, 142 (D. Or. 1995).
Nevertheless, the district courts enjoy independent
discretion to construe and interpret the expenses enumerated
at Section 1920. See Alflex Corp. v. Underwriters Lab.,
Inc., 914 F.2d 175, 177-178 (9th Cir. 1990) (per
Stay of Enforcement of Judgment Pending Appeal
district courts are authorized to "stay the enforcement
of a judgment pending the outcome of an appeal" under
appropriate circumstances. Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S.
418, 421 (2009), quoting Scripps-Howard Radio, Inc. v.
FCC, 316 U.S. 4, 9 (1942).
A stay is not a matter of right, even if irreparable injury
might otherwise result. ... It is instead an exercise of
judicial discretion, and the propriety of its issue is
dependent upon the circumstances of the particular case. . ..
The party requesting a stay bears the burden of showing that
the circumstances justify an exercise of that discretion. ...
The fact that the issuance of a stay is left to the
court's discretion does not mean that no legal standard
governs that discretion.... A motion to a court's
discretion is a motion, not to its inclination, but to its
judgment; and its judgment is to be guided by sound legal
principles. . . . [T]hose legal principles have been
distilled into consideration of four factors: (1) whether the
stay applicant has made a strong showing that [s]he is likely
to succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be
irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether issuance of
the stay will substantially injure the other parties
interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public
interest lies.. ..
Id. at 433-434 (internal quotation marks,
modifications, and citations omitted). The first two of the
four enumerated factors are considered "the most
critical." Id. at 434. If a stay applicant
satisfies those two factors, the court must then weigh ...