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Media Alerts - Kalitta Air, L.L.C. v. Central Texas Airborne System
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February 18, 2014
  Kalitta Air, L.L.C. v. Central Texas Airborne System
Headline: Ninth Circuit Affirms In Part and Reverses in Part District Court's Award of Costs Following Jury's Unanimous Verdict For Defendant Central Texas Airborne System.

Area of Law: Civil Law; Fees and Costs

Issues Presented: Whether the prevailing party in a civil suit may be awarded costs for pro hac vice admission fees, deposition costs, costs creation of visual aids created by graphic consultant firms, deposition video production and trial presentation support, and transcript synchronization under 28 U.S.C § 1920, which defines the term "costs" as used in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54.

Brief Summary: Plaintiff-Appellant Kalitta Air (Kalitta) appealed District Court's award of costs to defendant-appellee Central Texas Airborne System (CTAS) following a unanimous jury verdict in favor of CTAS in the amount of $622,036.38. Costs awarded included pro hac vice admission fees, graphic consultant fees, transcript synchronization fees, and costs for preparation of deposition video clips.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the District Court's award of costs finding that pro hac vice admission fees and deposition editing fees were not allowed under 28 U.S.C. § 1920.


To read the full opinion, please visit: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/da...13/12/19/13-15015.pdf

Extended Summary: In 1996 Kalitta filed a lawsuit against numerous defendants and CTAS alleging various causes of action stemming from the modification of two of Kalitta's aircrafts from passenger to cargo planes, which was followed by the Federal Aviation Administration's issuance of an Airworthiness Directive that rounded those planes. The District Court granted summary to CTAS on Kalitta's negligence claim. After a jury trial in 2001, the court entered judgment in favor of CTAS on Kalitta's negligent representation claim. In June 2002, the district court awarded CTAS $355,370. In December of 2002, the Ninth Circuit affirmed and reversed and remanded in part the judgment. Subsequently, the District Court held a second trial that resulted in a mistrial. After a third trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of CTAS. CTAS then filed a bill of costs for $724,021.37. Kalitta objected and the clerk of the court awarded CTAS $691,591.73 in costs.

Kalitta then moved the court to review the clerk's costs award arguing that pro hac vice admission fees were not taxable, CTAS sought impermissible costs for visual aids and deposition video production, as well as transcript synchronization, and many deposition costs taxed in the 2002 award were beyond the scope of Northern District of California Civil Local Rule 54-3. The District Court affirmed the clerk's award of $1,310 to CTAS for pro hac vice admission fees and found that costs for preparation of deposition video clips and costs for transcript synchronization were allowed. However, the District Court did reduce the award to $622,036.38, but concluded there was no reason to revisit the 2002 costs award.

The Ninth Circuit first addressed Kalitta's contention that the District Court erred in awarding CTAS $1,310 in costs for pro hac vice admission fees. The Court noted that 28 U.S.C § 1920(1) authorizes the district court to tax as costs "fees of the clerk" and looked to the plain language of the statute. The Court then concluded that the § 1920(1)'s reference to "fees of the clerk" drew its meaning from 28 U.S.C. § 1914, which authorizes the district court to collect a filing fee and additional fees only as prescribed by the Judicial Conference of the United States. The Court held that the Judicial Conference does not specifically provide for pro hac vice admission fees and thus § 1920(1) does not allow for an award of such fees as taxable costs.

Next, Kalitta argued that the District Court erred by awarding CTAS costs associated with editing deposition video clips to be played at trial and costs for synchronizing the deposition videotapes. The Ninth Circuit looked to § 1920(4), which permits the district court to tax as costs "fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case." The Court then concluded that there was no specific provision for the editing of deposition video clips to be played at trial in lieu of live witness testimony. The Court held that this was a service in excess of making copies, as allowed under § 1920(4) and reversed the District Court's award of costs associated with the editing of deposition video clips. Furthermore, synchronizing deposition videotapes with transcripts was also not an act of copying or exemplification, and thus was not truly necessary for trial.

Lastly, Kalitta contended that the District Court erred in awarding CTAS costs for retainers and fees for graphic consultants by refusing to reconsider the 2002 costs award following the first trial. The Ninth Circuit held that these arguments were either waived or lacked merit and, therefore, affirmed the costs.


To read the full opinion, please visit: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/da...13/12/19/13-15015.pdf

Panel: Judges Farris, Black and Ikuta

Date of Issued Opinion: 12/19/13

Docket Number: 13-15015

Decided: Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Case Alert Author: Kimberly Whang

Counsel: Mark L. McAlpine and Don W. Blevins, McAlpine PC, Auburn Hills, Michigan, for Plaintiff-Appellant. E. Joshua Rosenkranz and Robert M. Yablon, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, New York, New York for Defendant-Appellee.

Author of Opinion: Per Curiam Opinion

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Professor Ryan Williams

    Posted By: Ryan Williams @ 02/18/2014 01:18 PM     9th Circuit  

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