United States District Court, D. Colorado
ZACHARY A. CHESSER, Plaintiff,
DIRECTOR FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, Defendant.
Y. Wang United States Magistrate Judge
matter comes before the court on Plaintiff Zachary A.
Chesser's (“Plaintiff” or “Mr.
Chesser”) Objections to the Imposition of Costs (or
“Objections”), filed October 23, 2018. [#213].
This civil action was referred to the undersigned Magistrate
Judge to fully preside over for all purposes. See
[#37]; 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73;
D.C.COLO.LCivR 72.2(d). Having reviewed the Objection to
Costs, Defendant Director of Bureau of Prisons'
(“Defendant” or “BOP”) Response, and
the applicable case law, the court OVERRULES
Plaintiff's Objections for the reasons stated herein.
court presumes the Parties' familiarity with the
background of this case and will therefore discuss it only as
it pertains to the instant Objections. Plaintiff initiated
this civil action on December 22, 2014 in the United States
District Court for the District of Columbia. [#1-1].
Plaintiff, a Muslim, alleged that the BOP substantially
burdened his exercise of religion in violation of the
Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
(“RFRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1 et seq.
See generally [id.; #3; #58]. The District
Court for the District of Columbia transferred this matter to
this District on September 8, 2015. See [#1]. Upon
his transfer to this District, the court directed Mr. Chesser
to file an Amended and Second Amended Complaint, and the
Honorable Lewis T. Babcock drew two of Plaintiff's four
claims to the undersigned Magistrate Judge. See [#4;
#20; #22; #24; #25].
March 25, 2016, the court denied Plaintiff's Motion to
Reconsider the dismissal of two of his four claims, but
granted in part his Motion for Leave to Amend [#46].
See [#53]. Plaintiff filed his Third Amended
Complaint (“TAC”), the operative pleading in this
matter, on June 9, 2016. [#58]. The TAC asserted two claims
against Defendant for violations of RFRA: the BOP's
policy of “holding inmates in solitary confinement due
to their ties to terrorism” (“Claim III”)
and its conditions of confinement at the ADMAX United States
Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado (“ADX”)
substantially burdened the exercise of Mr. Chesser's
sincerely held religious beliefs (“Claim IV”).
See [id.]. The court granted in part the
BOP's Motion to Dismiss the TAC, leaving intact a portion
of Claim III and the entirety of Claim IV. See
several impasses with discovery the court granted the
Parties' request for a 120-day extension of the discovery
and dispositive motions deadline, extending those deadlines
to January 23 and February 26, 2018, respectively.
See [#159]. Each party then received an additional
extension of time to file their respective dispositive
motions. See [#174; #179]. The BOP filed its Motion
for Summary Judgment on March 2, 2018 [#180] and Plaintiff
his Second Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on April 2,
2018 [#193]. On August 6, 2018, the court granted summary
judgment in favor of the BOP on all claims and against
Plaintiff, and awarded costs to the BOP as the prevailing
party. See [#208]. Final Judgment entered in favor
of Defendant and against Plaintiff on August 7, 2018. [#209].
then submitted its proposed bill of costs on August 10, 2018.
See [#210]. On October 2, 2018, following a hearing
on the proposed bill of costs, the Clerk of the Court
assessed costs in the amount of $2, 330.80 against Plaintiff.
See [#212]. Plaintiff objected to the imposition of
costs on October 23, 2018, arguing that the BOP conducted
itself in bad faith during litigation and that Plaintiff
cannot pay the assessed amount. See [#213; #213-1].
Defendant has since responded, see [#214], and
though Plaintiff has not since replied, nothing precludes the
court from addressing Mr. Chesser's Objections at this
time. See D.C.COLO.LCivR 7.1(d).
54(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in
pertinent part, “Unless a federal statute, these rules,
or a court order provides otherwise, costs-other than
attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing
party. . . . The clerk may tax costs on 14 days' notice.
On motion served within the next 7 days, the court may review
the clerk's action.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
54(d)(1). Indeed, the denial of costs to the
prevailing party is a severe remedy, see Klein v.
Grynberg, 44 F.3d 1497, 1507 (10th Cir. 1995), and the
district court must support its denial of costs with valid
reasons, see Utah Animal Rights Coal. v. Salt Lake
Cty., 566 F.3d 1236, 1245 (10th Cir. 2009). In several
instances, however, the denial of costs may be appropriate,
such as when:
1. the prevailing party is only partially successful,
2. the prevailing party was obstructive and acted in bad
faith during the course of the litigation,
3. damages are “only nominal, ”
4. the nonprevailing party is indigent,
5. costs are “unreasonably high or unnecessary, ...