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Entek GRB, LLC v. Stull Ranches, LLC

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 12, 2016

ENTEK GRB, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
STULL RANCHES, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          PHILIP A. BRIMMER United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Stull Ranches' Motion to Review Clerk's Taxing of Costs (Doc. 233) [Docket No. 234]. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The background facts have been set forth elsewhere and will not be restated here except as relevant to resolving the present matter. See Docket No. 173 at 1-5; Entek GRB, LLC v. Stull Ranches, LLC, 763 F.3d 1252, 1253-54 (10th Cir. 2014). Plaintiff Entek GRB, LLC (“Entek”) asserted two claims for relief in this case. Plaintiff's first claim for relief sought a declaration that it had the right to: (1) stake, survey, drill, and develop well locations on Stull's surface (“Count One”); (2) use Stull's surface to reach well locations on adjacent property if those wells will develop Entek's mineral estate subjacent to Stull's surface (“Count Two”); and (3) access all surface areas within the unitized federal exploratory unit because of the unitization agreement (“Count Three”). Docket No. 81 at 11-14. The second claim for relief was for a permanent injunction. Id. at 14.

         On July 31, 2012, the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. Docket Nos. 146, 149. On March 29, 2013, the Court ruled that Entek was entitled to summary judgment as to Count One and that Stull was entitled to summary judgment as to Count Two and Count Three. Docket No. 173 at 9-10, 20, 25. Final Judgment entered accordingly. On April 25, 2013, Entek filed a Notice of Appeal. Docket No. 175. On August 14, 2014, the Tenth Circuit issued its opinion, holding that “the Focus Ranch Unit Agreement has the effect of providing Entek all the relief it seeks (under what it calls claim three), ” vacated the grant of summary judgment in Stull Ranches' favor, and remanded the case for further proceedings. Docket No. 185 at 15-16.

         On July 1, 2015, the Court granted Entek's summary judgment motion as to Count Three and denied as moot its motion with respect to Count One, Count Two, and plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief. See Docket No. 212. Final judgment in this matter entered in favor of Entek and against defendant Stull Ranches, LLC (“Stull Ranches”) on July 6, 2015. Docket No. 213. The Court awarded plaintiff its costs in the July 6, 2015 final judgment. Id. at 2.

         On July 20, 2015, Entek submitted a proposed bill of costs seeking costs in the amount of $52, 432.88. Docket No. 221. On August 24, 2015, Entek filed an amended bill of costs seeking costs in the amount of $54, 872.90. Docket No. 231. On August 27, 2015, the Clerk of the Court awarded costs in the amount of $36, 118.17. Docket No. 233 at 1.

         On September 3, 2015, Stull Ranches filed the instant motion. Docket No. 234. Stull Ranches first argues that Entek should not recover any costs because the case presented “close and difficult” questions. Id. at 3. Stull Ranches argues, in the alternative, that the Court should apply “extra scrutiny of Entek's request for costs.” Id.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) provides that “[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.” “[T]he taxing of costs pursuant to Rule 54(d)(1) rests in the sound judicial discretion of the trial court, and an abuse of that discretion occurs only where the trial court bases its decision on an erroneous conclusion of law or where there is no rational basis in the evidence for the ruling.” Allison v. Bank One-Denver, 289 F.3d 1223, 1248 (10th Cir. 2002) (internal citations omitted).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendant challenges the award of any costs, Docket No. 234 at 3, and, in the alternative, challenges the clerk's award of (1) $4, 278 in costs for copies while this case was on appeal, id. at 3-4; (2) $13, 766 in costs for data processing fees, id. at 4-6; (3) $1, 381 in costs for copies for the preliminary injunction hearing, id. at 6; and (4) $18, 438 in “costs not specifically identified.” Id. at 6-7.

         Section 1920 of Title 28 provides that the Clerk of Court may tax the following items as costs awarded ...


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