United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
C. DEVER III, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 24, 2019, the court granted The Methodist University,
Inc.'s ("Methodist" or "defendant")
motion for summary judgment against Tammy Horton
("Horton" or "plaintiff') [D.E. 86, 87].
OnJaniiary31, 2019, Methodisttimelyfiledamotionseeking$4,
191.lOincosts[D.E.88]. On February 7, 2019, Methodist moved
for attorneys' fees [D.E. 89] and filed a memorandum in
support [D.E. 90]. On February 14, 2019, Horton appealed the
court's grant of summary judgment to Methodist to the
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [D.E.
92]. On February 25, 2019, Horton moved to stay pending
appeal [D.E. 95] and moved for an extension of time to
respond to Methodist's motions [D.E. 96]. As explained
below, the court grants Methodist's motion for costs,
denies Methodist's motion for attorneys' fees, and
denies Horton's motions to stay and for an extension of
time to respond.
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) governs a post-judgment
motion for an award of costs. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). Rule
54(d)(1) provides that "costs-other than attorney's
fees-should be allowed to the prevailing party."
Id. A "prevailing party" is "a party
in whose favor a judgment is rendered" or "one who
has been awarded some relief by the court." Buckhannnn
Bd. & Care Home. Inc. v. W.Va. Dep't of Health
& Human Res.. 532 U.S. 598, 603 (2001) (quotation
and alteration omitted). Rule 54(d)(1) "gives rise to a
presumption in favor of an award of costs to the prevailing
party." Teapnev Ralrker, 35 F.3d 978, 996 (4th Cir.
1994); see Delta Air Lines. Inc. v.August 450 U.S.
346, 352 (1981); Ellis v. Grant Thornton LLP. 434
Fed.Appx. 232, 235 (4th Cir. 2011) (per curiam)
courts may assess only those costs listed in 28 U.S.C. §
1920. See28U.S.C. § 1920; Arlington C.ftnt. Sch.
Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Murphy. 548 U.S. 291, 301 (2006);
Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons. Inc.. 482 U.S.
437, 441-43 (1987), superseded on other
grounds by statute. 42 U.S.C. § 1988(c):
Herold v. HajocaCorp.. 864 F.2d 317.323 (4th Cir.
1988). Local Civil Rule 54.1 "further
refines the scope of recoverable costs." Howard v.
College of the Albemarle. No. 2:15-C V-39-D, 2017 WL
3754620, at * 1 (E.D. N.C. Aug. 29, 2017) (unpublished)
(quotation omitted); Earp v. Novartis Pharm. Corp..
No. 5:11-CV-680-D, 2014 WL 4105678, at *1 (E.D. N.C. Aug. 19,
2014) (unpublished); see Local Civil Rule 54.1.
first seeks costs for "the depositions and printed
transcripts reasonably and necessarily obtained for use in
[the] case." [D.E. 88-2] ¶ 14; see Daniel M. Nunn
Aff. [D.E. 88] 1. Such fees are recoverable. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1920(2); Local Civil Rule 54.1; Howard. 2017
WL 3754620, at *1 (collecting cases); Silicon Knights.
Inc. v. Epic Games. Inc.. 917 F.Supp.2d 503, 511.
Methodist also seeks costs "[d]ocket fees under 28
U.S.C. §1923." [D.E. 88] 1. Suchfeesare
recoverable. See 28 U.S.C. § 1920(5). Accordingly, the
court grants Methodist's motion for costs, and awards
Methodist $4, 191.10 in costs associated with deposition
transcripts and docket fees pursuant to section 1920 and
Local Civil Rule 54.1.
also seeks an award of its attorneys' fees [D.E. 89]. The
court, in its discretion, "may allow the prevailing
party... a reasonable attorney's fee" for actions
commenced under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 42U.S.C.
§ 17.7.05; see Bine v Airal renters 1 Nn.
5:14-CV-95-FL, 2014 WL 2946419, at *4 (E.D. N.C. June 30,
2014) (unpublished). The Rehabilitation Act contains an
analogous provision. See 29 U.S.C. § 794a(b); Brinn v.
Tidewater Transp. Dist r.nmm'n, 242 F.3d 227,
231 (4th Cir. 2001). "[A] prevailing defendant is
entitled to attorney's fees only if the plaintiffs suit
was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless, or the plaintiff
continued to litigate after it clearly became so."
Blue. 2014 WL 2946419, at *4 (alteration and
quotation omitted); see ChristJanburp Garment Co. v.
Equal Emp't Opportunity r.nmm'n1434
U.S. 412, 422 (1978); Equal Emp't Opportunity
rinmm'n v. Correct Care Sols.. No.
3:15-cv-4655-MGL-TER, 2017 WL 2954623, at *2 (D.S.C. June 23,
2017) (unpublished), report and recommendation
Tnmendfltinn adopted, 2017 WL 2936217 (D.S.C. July 10, 2017)
(unpublished). The Fourth Circuit has cautioned that
"awarding attorneys' fees to a prevailing defendant
is a conservative tool, to be used sparingly in those cases
in which the plaintiff presses a claim which [she] knew or
should have known was groundless, frivolous, or
unreasonable." Equal Emp't Opportunity
Comm'n v. Great Steaks. Inc., 667 F.3d 510, 517 (4th
Cir. 2012) (alteration and quotation omitted); see Arnold
v. Burger King Corp., 719 F.2d 63, 65 (4th Cir. 1983).
the question is close, the record does not support awarding
attorneys' fees to Methodist. Accordingly, the court
denies Methodist's motion for attorneys' fees.
February 26, 2019, Horton moved to stay proceedings pending
her appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit [D.E. 95] and moved for an extension of time
to file responses to Methodist's motions [D.E. 96]. As
for Horton's motion to stay, the court denies the motion.
Resolving these issues now better serves judicial resources.
Horton's motion for an extension, Horton's motion
concerning her response to Methodist's application for
costs is untimely. Additionally, because the court denied
Methodist's motion for attorneys' fees, Horton need
not rile a response to Methodist's motion for
attorneys' fees. Accordingly, the court denies
Horton's motion for an extension of time to respond.
the court GRANTS defendant's application for costs [D.E.
88], DENIES defendant's motion for attorneys' fees
[D.E. 89], DENIES plaintiff's motion to stay [D.E. 95],
and DENIES plaintiff's motion for an extension of time ...