United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON MOTION FOR BILL OF COSTS
L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is Defendant Amazon.com's
(“Amazon”) motion for bill of costs. (Mot. (Dkt.
# 51).) Plaintiff Ismahan Ismail did not respond to the
motion. (See Dkt.) The court has considered the
motion, the relevant portions of the record, and the
applicable law. Being fully advised, the court denies the
motion for the reasons set forth below.
case arose from Ms. Ismail's employment at Amazon's
Global Security Command Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Am.
Compl. (Dkt. # 22) ¶¶ 4.1-4.2.) Ms. Ismail filed
suit on October 28, 2016 (see IFP Mot. (Dkt. # 1))
and alleged claims under (1) Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 for disparate treatment based on her race and
religion, for a hostile work environment based on her
religion, and for retaliation; (2) 42 U.S.C. § 1981
based on racial discrimination and retaliation; and (3) the
Arizona Civil Rights Act (“ACRA”), Ariz. Rev.
Stat. § 41-1461, et seq., based on racial and
religious discrimination and retaliation. (See Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 5.1-5.15.) The court permitted Ms. Ismail
to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”).
(See 10/31/16 Order (Dkt. # 2).)
5, 2018, the court granted Amazon's motion for summary
judgment and dismissed Ms. Ismail's claims with
prejudice. (6/5/18 Order (Dkt. # 47).) The next day, Amazon
moved for a bill of costs in the amount of $4, 015.82.
(See Mot.) That motion is now before the court.
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) states that costs
“should be allowed to the prevailing party”
unless a statute, other rule of civil procedure, or a court
order states otherwise. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). The rule
“establishes a rebuttable presumption that the
prevailing party will be awarded its taxable costs, ”
but “also vests discretion in the district court to
refuse to do so.” Ofeldt v. Nevada, No.
3:10-cv-00420-LRH-VPC, 2010 WL 4607016, at *2 (D. Nev. Nov.
5, 2010) (citing Ass'n of Mexican-Am. Educators v.
California, 231 F.3d 572, 591 (9th Cir. 2000) (en
banc)). The court may deny costs because of “(1) the
substantial public importance of the case, (2) the closeness
and difficulty of the issues in the case, (3) the chilling
effect on future similar actions, (4) the plaintiff's
limited financial resources, and (5) the economic disparity
between the parties.” Escriba v. Foster Poultry
Farms, Inc., 743 F.3d 1236, 1247-48 (9th Cir. 2014). All
five factors need not weigh against imposing costs for the
court to deny a motion. See Draper v. Rosario, 836
F.3d 1072, 1087 (9th Cir. 2016). “[T]he losing party
[must] demonstrate why the costs should not be
awarded.” Stanley v. Univ. of S. Cal., 178
F.3d 1069, 1079 (9th Cir. 1999). If the court denies costs,
it must “give reasons” for that decision.
Ass'n of Mexican-Am. Educators, 231 F.3d at 593.
Ms. Ismail has not responded to the motion, the court finds
it appropriate to consider the factors articulated in
Escriba v. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. 743 F.3d at
1247-48, because Ms. Ismail raised her indigency earlier in
the case (see generally IFP Mot.; Mot. to Appoint
(Dkt. # 12)). In Ms. Ismail's IFP motion, she indicated
that she had not been employed since May 9, 2015, and that
when she was employed, she had a net monthly salary of
$750.00. (See IFP Mot. at 1.) She further stated
that she had negative funds in her bank accounts and had
become homeless. (Id. at 2-3.) Court-appointed
counsel also represented Ms. Ismail because she had no means
to hire an attorney. (See Mot. to Appoint at 1.)
Thus, Ms. Ismail has no means of paying the costs Amazon
requests. Cf. Stanley, 178 F.3d at 1080 (stating
that a court may properly deny costs when a plaintiff
“would be rendered indigent should she be forced to
pay” costs). In addition, there is a vast financial
disparity between the parties: Ms. Ismail has been unemployed
for over three years, whereas Amazon is a financially
successful corporation. (Compare IFP Mot. at 1-3,
with 2d Answer (Dkt. # 23) ¶ 2.2 (stating that
Amazon's affiliated companies employ over 200, 000 people
worldwide and that Amazon is one of the top 100
revenue-generating companies in the world)); see also
Escriba, 743 F.3d at 1249 (stating that the district
court did not err in denying costs based in part on the
economic disparity between the parties). Furthermore,
requiring an indigent plaintiff to pay thousands of dollars
in costs could chill future employment actions based on
alleged racial and religious discrimination-actions which are
important to the public interest. Id. (“[E]ven
modest costs can discourage potential plaintiffs . . . who
earn low wages.”); cf. Draper, 836 F.3d at
1088 (stating that “[i]ndividual Eighth Amendment cases
are important for safeguarding the rights and safety of
prisoners” and holding that the district court abused
its discretion in taxing costs of $3, 018.35 against the
prisoner plaintiff). Although the case did not necessarily
involve difficult questions, the other factors favor Ms.
Ismail. Cf. Draper, 836 F.3d at 1087 (stating that
IFP status alone does not exempt a plaintiff from paying
costs and should be considered “in the context of the
record as a whole”). Therefore, the court denies
Amazon's motion for costs.