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By Jaret J. Fuente
Congratulations! You’ve won the case and your client is entitled to collect costs from its opponent. The hard part is behind you (unless your opponent appeals, of course), but collection of costs is an important and sometimes tricky task that must be handled carefully and timely. The following checklist will guide you through the process of preparing a bill of costs:
Except when express provision therefore is made either in a statute of the United States or in these rules, costs other than attorney’s fees shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs; but costs against the United States, its officers, and agencies shall be imposed only to the extent permitted by law. Such costs may be taxed by the clerk on one day’s notice. On motion served within five days thereafter, the action of the clerk may be reviewed by the court.
However, some courts also have more specific local rules that address particular types of motions, such as motions to tax costs. For example, Local Rule 4.18(a) of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida provides: “In accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 54, all claims for costs or attorney’s fees preserved by appropriate pleading or pre-trial stipulation shall be asserted by separate motion or petition filed not later than fourteen days following the entry of judgment. The pendency of an appeal from the judgment shall not postpone the filing of a timely application pursuant to this rule.”
Some courts might also require or prefer a particular form of a bill of costs. Oftentimes, courts will post forms on their web sites to assist litigants. Simply go to the court’s web site, and look for a “Forms” link. Chances are, you’ll find a bill of costs form that you can download.
Always remember to review the local rules of the court where the action is pending to determine if the court has its own rules or procedures for taxing costs – particularly a specific time requirement. This is a critical part of the process of preparing your bill of costs.
A bill of costs shall be filed in the case and, upon allowance, included in the judgment or decree.
States typically have similar statutes to determine what kinds of costs are taxable. Remember to check court rules as well. For example, Florida has Statewide Uniform Guidelines for Taxation of Costs in Civil Actions. Florida’s guidelines provide for taxation of the costs of: (1) deposition transcripts (when used for certain purposes, such as at trial or to support or defeat a summary judgment), (2) expert witness fees, (3) travel expenses of the prevailing attorney incurred in connection with taking depositions out of the city or state, (4) travel of non-expert witnesses who travel for attendance at trial, (5) witness fees for non-expert witnesses who reside out of state but attend trial and testify pursuant to arrangements made with them by the prevailing party, (6) long distance telephone calls to witnesses arranging for conferences, depositions or trial testimony, (7) Xerox or other machine produced copies, and (8) the daily copy of the trial transcript portions used for impeachment.
|Filing Fee / Notice of Removal||$250.00|
|Court Reporter/Transcript Fees|
|Transcript of pre-trial conference||$100.00|
|Transcript of deposition of Mr. Witness||$250.00|
|Witness Name||Attendance||Subsistence||Mileage||Total Cost of Each Witness|
|Mr. Witness||2 days||-0-||-0-||$80.00|
Jaret Fuente practices in the Product Liability and Pharmaceutical and Medical Device practice groups in the Tampa, Florida office of Carlton Fields, P.A. He also focuses on defending significant personal injury and wrongful death claims. Jaret is a member of the ABA’s YLD and Sections of Litigation and Tort Trial & Insurance Practice.