United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
OPINION AND ORDER
AIKEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Thomas Bergin, Clatsop County, and Paul Tesi, as prevailing
parties, have timely filed a Bill of Costs (doc 189) with
this Court following jury trial in this matter. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES defendants'
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) 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).
"Costs" taxable under Rule 54(d) "are limited
to those set forth in 28 U.S.C. §§1920 and
1821." Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. v.
Entm't Distrib., 429 F.3d 869, 885 (9th
Cir. 2005), (citing Crawford Fitting Co. v. J. T.
Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 445(1987)).
Rule 54 creates a presumption in favor of awarding costs to
the prevailing party, District Courts may refuse to award
costs based on the circumstances of a case. See Ass
'n of Mex.-Am. Educators v. California, 231
F.3d 572, 591-93 (9th Cir. 2000). This discretion is not
unlimited, and a District Court must specify reasons for its
refusal to award costs. Id. at 591.
are several appropriate considerations for the Court to
"(1) the losing party's limited financial resources;
(2) misconduct on the part of the prevailing party, (3) the
chilling effect on prospective litigants; (4) whether the
case involves issues of substantial public importance,
specifically educational quality, interracial disparities in
economic opportunity, and access to positions of social
influence; (5) great economic disparity between the parties;
(6) whether the issues in the case are close and difficult;
and (7) whether Plaintiffs' case, although unsuccessful,
had some merit." Jefferson v. City of Fremont,
2015 WL 1264703, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2015) (internal
seek costs in the amount of $1, 047.90. Several of above
listed factors, however, weigh in favor of denying costs.
the Court finds that plaintiff has limited financial
resources. Awarding costs has been found to be an abuse of
discretion where a plaintiff was "incarcerated,
unemployed, had no bank account, assets, or other income, and
owned thousands of dollars in restitution." Van
Patten v. Washington Cty. by & through Washington Cty.
Sheriffs Office, 2017 WL 3671252, at *2 (D. Or. Aug. 24,
2017) (citing Draper v. Rosario, 836 F.3d 1072, 1089
(9th Cir. 2016)) Plaintiff is incarcerated in the State of
Oregon and will remain so for some time. The Court also has
previously recognized the limited nature of plaintiffs
resources when it granted him In Forma
Pauperis status and appointed pro bono counsel
to aid in trying this case. Relatedly, the Court also finds
that there is significant economic disparity between the
parties. An incarcerated person with no savings or real
property has substantially more limited resources than does
County of Clatsop and its officers.
the Court must also consider the chilling affect that
awarding costs might have on future actions as well as the
importance of the issues raised in this lawsuit. This is
primarily a civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 to vindicate the constitutional rights of
plaintiff and other pretrial detainees. The Ninth Circuit has
noted that "[w]ithout civil rights litigants who are
willing to test the boundaries of our laws, we would not have
made much the progress that has occurred in this nation since
Brown v. Board of Educ." Stanley v. Univ. of S.
California, 178 F.3d 1069, 1079 (9th Cir.1999) The
treatment and conditions of confinement of incarcerated
Americans is an issue of national importance, and the
obstacles to litigate those issues are felt acutely by those
still serving in-custody sentences. Indeed, this case was
filed in 2011 and has been the subject of much briefing and
discovery as well as one successful appeal before
trial. The Court finds that awarding costs here
would discourage prospective civil rights plaintiffs from
taking on the significant burden of litigating these
close, important issues presented in this lawsuit and
plaintiffs limited financial resources are sufficient for the
Court to exercise its discretion pursuant to Rule 54(d) to
refuse to award costs here.
reasons set forth above, defendants Bill of Costs (doc. 189)