United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
LINDA A. MILLER, M.D., Plaintiff,
HURON REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, INC., Defendant.
ORDER REVIEWING TAXATION OF COSTS
E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 26, 2018, the Clerk of Court for the District of
South Dakota entered his decision on plaintiff, Dr. Linda
Miller's, Bill of Costs. Docket 299. Defendant, Huron
Regional Medical Center, Inc. (HRMC), seeks review of the
Clerk's Taxation of Costs. Docket 300. Dr. Miller opposes
HRMC's motion. Docket 303.
11, 2017, after a jury trial, the court entered judgment in
favor of Dr. Miller and against HRMC on her breach of
contract claim and in favor of HRMC on Dr. Miller's
defamation claim. Docket 285. Dr. Miller was awarded more
than $900, 000 in compensatory damages on her breach of
contract claim. Id. On May 18, 2017, Dr. Miller
filed a Bill of Costs and Itemization and Documentation of
Requested Costs. Docket 286. HRMC objected to Dr.
Miller's Bill of Costs. Docket 287. The Clerk of Court
determined that “Miller was the prevailing party for
the purpose of awarding costs under 28 U.S.C. §
1920.” Docket 299. Thus, the Clerk of Court found that
costs are taxed in favor of Dr. Miller in the amount of $23,
494.80. Id. HRMC now seeks review of the Clerk of
Court's decision. Docket 300.
district court reviews the clerk's taxation of costs de
novo. Farmer v. Arabian Am. Oil Co., 379 U.S. 227,
232-33 (1964). “Unless . . . a court order provides
otherwise, costs-other than attorney's fees-should be
allowed to the prevailing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
54(d)(1). “Usually the litigant in whose favor judgment
is rendered is the prevailing party for purposes of Rule
54(d).” 10 Charles Alan Wright et. al., Federal
Practice and Procedure § 2667 (3d ed. 1998).
“A party who is only partially successful also can be
deemed a prevailing party.” Id. “In some
cases of this type, however, the court will apportion costs
among the parties or reduce the size of the prevailing
party's award to reflect the partial success.”
Dr. Miller was the prevailing party.
argues that both parties were prevailing parties because Dr.
Miller only prevailed on her breach of contract claim, and
HRMC successfully defended against Dr. Miller's
defamation claim. Docket 301 at 3. HRMC relies on Johnson
v. Nordstrom-Larpenteur Agency, Inc., 623 F.2d 1279 (8th
Cir. 1980), to support its argument. In Johnson, the
plaintiff alleged discrimination under Title VII,
discrimination under the Equal Pay Act, and retaliatory
discharge under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Id. at
1280. The defendant counterclaimed for money owed.
Id. The plaintiff prevailed in part on her claim of
discrimination under Title VII but did not prevail on her
other claims. Id. Defendant prevailed on its
counterclaim. Id. The district court ordered each
party to bear its own costs because each had prevailed on a
claim, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.
Id. at 1282. HRMC also relies on Wright et. al.,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2667. Section
2667 cites to ARP Films, Inc. v. Marvel Entertainment
Group, Inc., 952 F.2d 643 (2d Cir. 1991), as an example
where, similar to the decision in Johnson, a court
found that a plaintiff was not the prevailing party because
the plaintiff prevailed on only some of its claims and
defendant prevailed on its counterclaim. Id. at 651.
also cites to several cases from other circuits that
acknowledged that it is within the district court's
discretion to order parties to bear their own costs where
there is a mixed judgment. See Barber v. T.D. Williamson,
Inc., 254 F.3d 1223, 1234-35 (10th Cir. 2001);
Amarel v. Connell, 102 F.3d 1494, 1523 (9th Cir.
1996); Testa v. Vill. of Mundelein, 89 F.3d 443, 447
(7th Cir. 1996). But those cases do not support HRMC's
argument. The court in Amarel did not offer an
opinion as to which party was the prevailing party.
Amarel, 102 F.3d at 1523. It remanded that issue to
the district court because it acknowledged that its reversal
of one of the district court's decisions could change the
analysis as to which party was the prevailing party.
Id. The court in Testa found that the
district court did not abuse its discretion in deciding that
both parties would bear their own costs where, in the Seventh
Circuit, the prevailing party is the party “who
prevails as to the substantial part of the
litigation.” Testa, 89 F.3d at 447 (emphasis
in original). And in Barber, the court found that
the district court erred in finding that the plaintiff was
not the sole prevailing party because “the district
court entered judgment in [the plaintiff's] favor and
remanded the case to the district court for a determination
of costs. Barber, 254 F.3d at 1234.
HRMC did not prevail on a counterclaim and was ordered to pay
over $900, 000 in damages to Dr. Miller. Even where a party
has only prevailed on some of its claims, it may still be
considered the prevailing party. Wright et. al., Federal
Practice and Procedure § 2667. The court entered a
judgment in favor of Dr. Miller, and the Eighth Circuit has
never found, as the Seventh Circuit has, that a prevailing
party must prevail on a substantial number of its claims. In
light of the sizeable judgment awarded to Dr. Miller, the
court finds that Dr. Miller is the prevailing party under
Dr. Miller's costs should not be reduced.
plaintiff has prevailed on some of its claims, but not all of
its claims, the court has broad discretion to
“apportion costs among the parties or reduce the size
of the prevailing party's award to reflect the partial
success.” Wright et. al., Federal Practice and
Procedure § 2667. HRMC argues that the court should
reduce the costs because Dr. Miller's claims were
separate and distinct and the majority of the costs are
attributable to Dr. Miller's unsuccessful defamation
claim. Docket 301 at 4.
court disagrees with HRMC's argument that Dr.
Miller's claims were separate and distinct. As detailed
in this court's Order Denying Defendant's Motion for
Remittitur or for New Trial (Docket 302), the court stated:
Dr. Miller alleged that HRMC forced her to reduce her
hospital privileges in violation of the provisions set forth
in the Bylaws . . . [and] that the report to the [National
Practitioner Data Bank] stating that she voluntarily reduced
her privileges-which was filed in ...