United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division
VIRGIL VAN STELTON, CAROL VAN STELTON, AND ALVIN VAN STELTON, Plaintiffs,
JERRY VAN STELTON, DONNA VAN STELTON, EUGENE VAN STELTON, GARY CHRISTIANS, DOUG WEBER, SCOTT GRIES, NATE KRIKKE, ROBERT E. HANSEN, DANIEL DEKOTER, OSCEOLA COUNTY, IOWA, AND DEKOTER, THOLE AND DAWSON, P.C., Defendants.
ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFFS' BILL OF COSTS
MARK W. BENNETT, District Judge.
This case is before me on plaintiffs Virgil Van Stelton, Carol Van Stelton, and Alvin Van Stelton's (collectively, "the Van Steltons") Bill of Costs. Defendants Doug Weber, Scott Gries, Nate Krikke, Robert E. Hansen, and Osceola County (collectively, "the County defendants") filed a resistance to the Van Steltons' Bill of Costs. The Van Steltons have not filed a reply.
I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On May 11, 2011, Virgil Van Stelton and Alvin Van Stelton filed their initial pro se Complaint. The Complaint contained: (1) claims for civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by all plaintiffs; (2) claims by Virgil Van Stelton for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and loss of consortium; and (3) claims by Virgil Van Stelton and Alvin Van Stelton for intentional infliction of emotional distress, slander, and "interference with Right to Petition for Redress of Grievances." Subsequently, Virgil and Alvin amended their Complaint to add Carol Van Stelton, Virgil's wife, as a named plaintiff and her claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, loss of consortium, and slander. After the Van Steltons retained counsel, they sought and were granted leave to file both a Second Amended Complaint and a Third Amended Complaint. The Third Amended Complaint added a law firm as a named defendant and contained claims for: (1) civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq .; and (3) false arrest, malicious prosecution, slander and libel, tortious interference with prospective business advantage, ongoing criminal conduct, and declaratory judgment and injunctive relief.
The gist of the Van Steltons' claims were that the defendant law firm controls and manipulates a wide array of legal matters in Osceola County, Iowa. The law firm allegedly maintains such control through symbiotic relationships it enjoys with the Osceola County Attorney, defendant Robert E. Hansen, and the Osceola County Sheriff, defendant Doug Weber. The Van Steltons also alleged a conflict between them and their two brothers over their interests in a family trust. As part of that dispute, the Van Steltons alleged that Sheriff Weber illegally arrested Virgil. Defendants Weber, Hansen, Scott Gries, Nate Krikke, and Osceola County filed a motion to dismiss portions of the Third Amended Complaint. I granted that motion in part and denied it in part. After which, the County defendants filed their answer to the Third Amended Complaint, as well as a counterclaim for abuse of process. The Van Steltons filed a motion to dismiss that counterclaim, which I denied because the counterclaim adequately stated a viable abuse of process claim under Iowa law. The County defendants then sought summary judgment on the remaining claims asserted against them. I granted the County defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissed the remaining claims against them. The County defendants subsequently voluntarily dismissed their counterclaim.
II. LEGAL ANALYSIS
The Van Steltons seek to recover $896.00 as costs as the prevailing party on the County defendants' counterclaim. Specifically, the Van Steltons request $896.00 in deposition expenses related to their deposition of Sheriff Weber. The Van Steltons assert that over 50 percent of their deposition of Sheriff Weber pertained to discovery of his factual basis for the counterclaim against them. The County defendants counter that little of Sheriff Weber's deposition involved questioning him about the counterclaim. Instead, the County defendants claim that most of the questions related to the Van Steltons' claims and, in particular, the alleged conspiracy among the defendants. As a result, the County defendants contend that the costs of Sheriff Weber's deposition are not attributable to the Van Steltons' defense of the counterclaim and should be disallowed.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) provides:
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. But costs against the United States, its officers, and its agencies may be imposed only to the extent allowed by law. 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).
Recoverable costs are set out in 28 U.S.C. § 1920, which states:
A judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax as costs the following:
(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;
(2) Fees of the court reporter for all or any part of the stenographic transcript necessarily ...