United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
matter is before the clerk on petitioner Jose Gustavo
Moneterros Salguero's motion for payment of costs
[DE-117] following the court's order to return his minor
child to El Salvador pursuant to The Convention of the Civil
Aspects of International Child Abduction, October 25, 1980,
T.I.A.S., No. 11670 et seq. ("Hague
Convention") and the International Child Remedies Act,
22 U.S.C. § 9001 et seq. ("ICARA").
Respondent has not filed a response, and the deadline for
doing so has since passed. This matter is therefore ripe, and
has been referred to the clerk for ruling at the direction of
the presiding judge.
initiated this action in the Southern District of Texas by
filing a verified petition seeking the return of his minor
child pursuant to the Hague Convention and ICARA. On
petitioner's motion, the Southern District of Text
transferred the action to this court on March 14, 2017.
the transfer, petitioner filed an amended verified petition.
After ruling on a variety of motions, the court held a
hearing on the petition from April 17-19, 2017. After the
parties filed post-hearing briefs, the court granted the
amended verified petition and awarded petitioner physical
custody, for the purpose of returning the child to El
Salvador. The court allowed petitioner 14 days to file an
application for attorney's fees and expenses. Petitioner
timely filed the motion for payment of costs.
Any court ordering the return of a child pursuant to an
action brought under section 9003 of this title shall order
the respondent to pay necessary expenses incurred by or on
behalf of the petitioner, including court costs, legal fees,
foster home or other care during the course of the
proceedings in the action, and transportation costs related
to the return of the child, unless the respondent-establishes
that such order would be clearly inappropriate.
22 U.S.C. § 9007(b)(3). Accordingly, under the plain
language of the statute, this court has the duty to order the
payment of necessary expenses and legal fees unless
respondent satisfies her burden of showing that such an order
would be clearly inappropriate.
case, respondent has failed to offer any response, and
therefore the clerk cannot find that she has met her burden
in establishing that an award of expenses to petitioner is
clearly inappropriate. Accordingly, the clerk will consider
only whether the expenses requested by petitioner constitute
a "necessary expense" related to the return of the
minor child and are reasonable. See Dawson v.
McPherson. No. 1:14CV225, 2014 WL 4748512, at *2 (M.D.
N.C. Sept. 23, 2014); Trudrung v. Trudrung. No.
1:10CV73, 2010 WL 2867593, at *1 (M.D. N.C. July 21, 2010).
seeks $2, 064.20 for expenses incurred by him personally, and
submits supporting receipts. His expenses include the costs
he incurred in purchasing a visa and passport to travel to
the United States ($219.00), a round trip flight from El
Salvador ($777.60), a one-way flight to El Salvador for the
child ($426.60), and his lodging in North Carolina during the
custody exchange of the child ($641.00). These costs are all
necessary expenses related to the return of the child and are
reasonable. See Hirst v. Tiberghien. Civil Action
No., 6:13-00729-JM, 2012 WL 6827813, at *5 (D.S.C. Dec. 20,
2013) (awarding a petitioner expenses including roundtrip
airfare for petitioner, lodging, and return airfare for
children); Judge v. Williams, No. 4:11-CV-119-F,
2011 WL 3759476, at *2 (E.D. N.C. August 25, 2011) (awarding
expenses for petitioner's roundtrip airfare, lodging, and
return airfare for child).
also seeks expenses incurred by counsel on his behalf, in the
amount of $12, 427.36. In declarations, petitioner's
current and prior counsel state that although they
represented petitioner pro bono, and are not seeking
attorney's fees, their retention agreements with
petitioner require him to reimburse counsel's law firms
for costs incurred on his behalf during the representation of
him in this action. See Decl. of Counsel [DE-117-10]
¶ 3; Decl. of Counsel [DE-117-11] 13. In support of his
request for these expenses, petitioner submits declarations
of counsel, and for some expenses, supporting invoices.
expenses for which petitioner submitted supporting receipts
or invoices include the costs for court interpreters for the
hearing in this matter ($3, 682.00), costs for translation of
documents offered as exhibits in the case ($2, 149.29), fees
for the transcripts of the hearing on the petition ($1,
695.75), lodging for his counsel and some meals during the
hearing on the petition ($873.03), lodging for his counsel
during the custody exchange ($208.69), the services of a
private investigator to confirm the location of the child
within the Eastern District ($731.80), the costs of
subpoenaing airline records ($20.00, and the fee for an
expert witness ($350.00). The clerk finds that these
constitute necessary expenses related to the return of the
child. See Cuellar v. Joyce, 603 F.3d
1142-43 (9th Cir. 2010) (finding the expenses incurred by
attorney for lodging and meals during oral argument and
post-argument mediation to be "necessary expenses
incurred by or on behalf of petitioner); Dawson,
2014 WL 4748512, at * 8 (awarding petitioner expenses for,
inter alia, the cost of a private investigator to
locate the abducted children in the United States);
Saldivar v. Rodela, 894 F.Supp.2d 916, 945 (W.D.
Tex. 2012) (awarding costs for expert witness fees);
Neves v. Neves. 637 F.Supp.2d 322, 344 (W.D. N.C.
2009) (awarding petitioner translation expenses);
Friedrich v. Thompson. No. 1:00-GV-772, 1999 WL
33951234, at *2 (M.D. N.C. Nov. 26, 1999) (awarding
petitioner the cost of translating documents from German to
English). See also 28 U.S.C. § 1920 (providing
for the taxation of costs of fees of court reporters for
transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case,
compensation of interpreters, and fees for copies of papers
necessarily obtained for use in the case); Saldivar,
894 F.Supp.2d at 943 (concluding that costs taxable under 28
U.S.C. § 1920 are "per se awardable" under
ICARA). The clerk also finds that these requested expenses,
supported by invoices, are reasonable.
also seeks expenses incurred by his counsel on his behalf
which are not supported by invoices; rather, his current and
prior counsel state in declarations that invoices are not
available. These expenses include costs for counsel's
travel for trial and the custody exchange ($1, 034.45); meals
during the trial and custody exchange
($243.02); postage, telephone, and courier costs
($843.36); color copies, scanning, and printing costs
($31.40); long distance phone charges ($24.26); filing fee
($400.00), and attempted service of process costs ($140.31).
With the exception of the filing fee, which is documented in
the record [DE-1], these remaining expenses are not awarded.
Without supporting invoices, additional documentation, or
some further explanation from counsel, the clerk cannot find
that the costs for postage, telephone, courier costs, copies,
scanning, printing or long distance phone charges were
necessary, nor can the clerk find any of the other expenses
are reasonable. See Whallon v. Lynn, No. Civ. A.
00-11009-RWZ, 2003 WL 1906174, at * (D. Mass. April 18, 2003)
(declining to award petitioner "inadequately
documented" expenses), aff'd 356 F.3d 138
(1st Cir. 2004); Dawson. 2014 WL 4748512, at *9
(refusing to award expenses for which a petitioner provided
no documentation because "[i]f the Court cannot assess
the validity of the expenses, it cannot begin to address
whether such expenses were in fact reasonable or
necessary"). Accordingly, petitioner's request for
expenses incurred on his behalf by counsel shall be reduced
by the amount of $2, 316.80.
petitioner's motion for payment of costs is GRANTED, and
pursuant to 22 U.S.C. § 9007(b)(3), petitioner is