United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Smith Camp Chief United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Objection to
Costs Taxed, ECF No. 568 in Case No. 8:11CV401; ECF No. 468
in Case No. 8:12CV307. Also before the Court is
Plaintiffs' Motion for Clarification, ECF No. 569 in Case
No. 8:11CV401; ECF No. 469 in Case No. 8:12CV307. For the
reasons stated below, the Objection will be overruled and the
Motion for Clarification will be granted as stated
Court's previous orders contain a detailed recitation of
the procedural and historical background of this case. By way
of summary, the Court states the following:
Werner Enterprises, Inc., and Drivers Management, LLC,
(collectively “Werner”) operated an eight-week
Student Driver Program as part of the training for new truck
drivers. Plaintiffs filed this class action lawsuit seeking
compensation for unpaid wages allegedly earned during
off-duty time spent on short rest breaks and in their
trucks' sleeper berths. In May 2017, the Court held a
jury trial on the issue of damages for Plaintiffs'
short-rest-break claims and liability on Plaintiffs'
sleeper-berth claims. Following the three-day trial, the jury
awarded $779, 127.00 in damages on Plaintiffs'
short-rest-break claims, an amount equal to those calculated
by Plaintiffs' expert. See Jury Verdict, ECF No.
516, Page ID 43269. The jury found that Plaintiffs failed to
demonstrate that Werner required or allowed Plaintiffs to
work during time logged in the sleeper berth in excess of
eight hours each 24-hour period. Id. at Page ID
February 13, 2018, the Taxation Clerk taxed costs to
Plaintiffs in the amount of $15, 839.68. Plaintiffs object to
the Taxation of Costs, arguing that Werner is not the
prevailing party and therefore not entitled to costs.
Plaintiffs also request clarification of the Court's
Memorandum and Order dated February 9, 2018, ECF No. 566 (the
“Order on Attorney's Fees”). Specifically,
Plaintiffs request an Order clarifying that Defendants will
be responsible for the reasonable cost of distributing the
funds awarded by the jury.
Objection to Taxation of Costs
object to the taxation clerk's conclusion that Werner is
a prevailing party entitled to costs under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 54(d)(1). Under Rule 54(d)(1),
“[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.” A party is a “prevailing
party” if the party prevailed on “any significant
issue in the litigation which achieved some of the benefit
the parties sought in bringing suit.” Tex. State
Teachers Ass'n v. Garland Indep. Sch. Dist., 489
U.S. 782, 791 (1989) (internal citations and quotations
omitted); see also SuperTurf, Inc. v. Monsanto Co.,
660 F.2d 1275, 1287 (8th Cir. 1981) (“A party who has
obtained some relief usually will be considered the
‘prevailing party' under [Fed. R. Civ. P.] 54(d)
even if it has not succeeded on all of its claims.”).
In this case, Werner prevailed on a significant
issue-Plaintiffs' sleeper-berth claim, for which
Plaintiffs sought over $27 million in damages. Accordingly,
the taxation clerk correctly concluded that both parties
prevailed on a significant issue in this case.
argue that costs cannot be taxed against them because the
Court has already declared them to be a prevailing party
under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) for purposes of attorney's
fees. Specifically, Plaintiffs state that they cannot be
taxed costs because “[i]t is well established that
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1), there can only be a single
prevailing party in a particular case.” Pl. Br. at 3,
ECF No. 568, Page ID 56739.
district courts have held that, in cases where parties each
prevail on certain claims, “both parties are
presumptively entitled to recover costs under Rule
54(d)(1).” Nacy v. D.F.C. Ents., Inc., No.
11-00331-CV-W-SWH, 2014 WL 12601514, at *6 (W.D. Mo. Mar. 31,
2014) (quoting James v. Wash Depot Holdings, Inc.,
242 F.R.D. 645, 648 (S.D. Fla. 2007). Most courts, however,
have interpreted Rule 54(d)(1) to mean there can be only one
prevailing party in a particular case for purposes of costs
under the Rule. See, e.g., Shum v. Intel Corp., 629
F.3d 1360, 1367 (Fed. Cir. 2010); Barber v. T.D.
Williamson, Inc., 254 F.3d 1223, 1234 (10th Cir. 2001).
the Eighth Circuit has not addressed this issue, other
circuits have noted that, generally, “the litigant who
is the prevailing party for purposes of attorney's fees
is also the prevailing party for purposes of costs.”
Barber, 254 F.3d at 1234; see also 10
Moore's Federal Practice § 54.101 (3d
ed. 2000) (noting that the “prevailing party”
under Rule 54(d)(1) is generally, but not completely,
synonymous with the “prevailing party”
requirement in the attorney's fee context); see also
Tunison v. Cont'l Airlines Corp., Inc., 162 F.3d
1187, 1189-90 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (noting that “the
‘prevailing party' determination is generally the
same in the two contexts”-i.e., Rule 54(d)(1)
and 42 U.S.C. § 1988). Further, “[u]sually the
litigant in whose favor judgment is rendered is the
prevailing party for purposes of Rule 54(d)(1).”
Barber, 254 F.3d at 1234 (quoting Wright &
Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure, §
2667). Based on this general rule, Plaintiffs argue that
because they were a prevailing
party for purposes of attorney's fees under 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b), Werner cannot be the
prevailing party under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
Eighth Circuit has stated that “[w]here each of the
parties has prevailed on one or more of its claims, defense
or counterclaims, the district court has broad discretion in
taxing costs.” Johnson v. Nordstrom-Larpenteur
Agency, Inc., 623 F.2d 1279, 1282 (8th Cir. 1980). In
cases where a party is only partially successful, “some
courts have chosen to apportion costs among the parties or to
reduce the size of the prevailing party's award to
reflect the partial success.” Barber, 254 F.3d
at 1234. The court in Shum-a case relied upon by
Plaintiffs-approved this practice, holding that “the
district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding costs
to each party with respect to the claims on which they each
prevailed, then netting those sums to arrive at the final
figure.” 629 F.3d at 1364.
Courts of Appeals have approved apportionment where district
courts taxed costs to each party based on the parties'
respective successful claims. For example, in Williams v.
Gaye, 885 F.3d 1150, 1178 (9th Cir. 2018),
representatives for Marvin Gaye's estate sued Robin
Thicke for infringement of copyrights to two of Gaye's
songs. The district court entered judgment for Gaye's
estate with respect to one of the songs, but entered judgment
for Thicke with respect to the other. Id. at
1177-78. The district court apportioned costs by awarding
costs to each party on its successful claim. Id. at
1178. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court,
concluding that the apportionment “in effect reduced
the [estate's] costs award ‘to reflect the extent
of [its] victory.'” Id. (quoting
Shum, 629 F.3d at 1370). The court reasoned that
even with the Federal Circuit's “singular
construction” of Rule 54(d)(1) as stated in
Shum, the award ...