United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
SINGER OIL COMPANY, LLC, an Oklahoma limited liability company, Plaintiff,
NEWFIELD EXPLORATION MID-CONTINENT, INC., a foreign corporation domesticated to do business in Oklahoma; and HALLIBURTON ENERGY SERVICES, INC., a foreign corporation domesticated to do business in Oklahoma, Defendants.
MILES-LaGRANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is plaintiff's Motion to Review Clerk's
Cost Determination, filed January 18, 2018. On January 25,
2018, defendant Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.
(“Halliburton”) filed its response, and on
February 5, 2018, defendant Newfield Exploration
Mid-Continent Inc. (“Newfield”) filed its
response. Based upon the parties' submissions, the Court
makes its determination.
October 6, 2017, the Court granted Halliburton's motion
for summary judgment. On November 20, 2017, the Court entered
judgment in favor of Halliburton and against plaintiff.
Additionally, this case was tried to a jury from November 8,
2017 through November 15, 2017. After deliberation, the jury
returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff and against Newfield
on plaintiff's private nuisance claim, negligence claim,
and breach of contract claim and awarded damages in the
amount of $257, 000.00. On November 20, 2017, the Court
entered judgment consistent with the jury's verdict. On
November 29, 2017, plaintiff filed a Bill of Costs, and
Halliburton filed a Bill of Costs. On January 11, 2018, the
Clerk of Court taxed $3, 459.01 in costs in favor of
Halliburton and against plaintiff and taxed $6, 755.40 in
costs in favor of plaintiff and against Newfield.
now moves this Court to review the Clerk of Court's
taxation of costs. Specifically, plaintiff asserts that the
Clerk erred in granting Halliburton a cost award because
Halliburton was not a prevailing party entitled to costs.
Further, in relation to the costs taxed against Newfield,
plaintiff asserts the Clerk erred in failing to grant the
entirety of plaintiff's prevailing party cost claim
otherwise allowed under applicable Oklahoma law.
asserts that because Halliburton jointly made an offer to
confess judgment with Newfield and because at trial plaintiff
was awarded damages against Newfield in an amount greater
than the offer to confess judgment, Halliburton is not a
prevailing party. Plaintiff, however, cites to absolutely no
case law to support its assertion. Having reviewed the
parties' submissions, as well as Oklahoma's statutory
and case law, the Court finds that plaintiff's assertion
is without merit. Even if two defendants make a joint offer
to confess judgment, when determining whether a defendant is
a prevailing party, that defendant must be viewed
individually. In the case at bar, judgment was rendered in
favor of Halliburton and against plaintiff. See
November 20, 2017 Judgment [docket no. 135]. Thus, the Court
finds that Halliburton is the prevailing party and was
entitled to an award of costs. Accordingly, the Court finds
that the Clerk of Court did not err in granting Halliburton a
asserts that the Clerk of Court's cost determination is
too low and is contrary to law. Specifically, plaintiff
asserts that the Clerk should have followed substantive
Oklahoma law and that pursuant to Okla. Stat. tit. 12, §
1101.1, plaintiff is entitled to a wide range of reasonably
allowable costs, specifically expert witness
Because federal procedural law governs the taxation of costs,
any discretion afforded the trial court would arise under
federal law, namely Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d), and not under state
law. That discretion is constrained by 28 U.S.C. §§
1821 and 1920. Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons,
Inc., 107 S.Ct. at 2498-99. In the absence of an
explicit statutory authorization, a trial court has no
discretion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d) to tax the actual costs
of expert witness fees. Id.
Chaparral Res., Inc. v. Monsanto Co., 849 F.2d 1286,
1292 (10th Cir. 1988).
Okla. Stat. tit. 12, § 1101.1 makes the award of
reasonable litigation costs mandatory, and thus provides
statutory authority, any state law which provides for an
award of expert witness fees is preempted by federal statute,
specifically 28 U.S.C. § 1821. “Congress has
definitely prescribed its own requirement with respect to the
fees of witnesses. The Congress has dealt with the subject
comprehensively, and has made no exception of the fees of
expert witnesses. Its legislation must be deemed controlling,
and excludes the application in the federal courts of any
different state practice.” Henkel v. Chicago, St.
P., M. & O. Ry. Co., 284 U.S. 444, 447 (1932)
(citations omitted). Thus, the Court finds that the actual
costs of expert witness fees may not be taxed as costs. The
Court, therefore, finds the Clerk of Court did not err in
failing to award costs for expert witness fees in this case.
reasons set forth above, the Court DENIES plaintiffs Motion
to Review Clerk's Cost Determination [docket no. 169].