Plaintiffs Awarded eDiscovery Costs as Nontaxable Section 1988 Expenses for Prosecuting Civil Rights Violations
In Thorncreek Apartments I, LLC et. al. v. Village of Park Forest et. al., Consolidated Case Nos. 08-869, 08-1225, 08-4303 (N.D. Ill., Aug. 29, 2016), a set of consolidated cases related to zoning and building code violations as well as housing discrimination, a jury found in favor of Plaintiffs on certain claims and in favor of Defendants on other claims, awarding damages to both sides. The parties then both filed motions for attorneys’ fees and nontaxable expenses. The court denied Defendants’ motion entirely but partially granted Plaintiffs’ motion, rewarding over $430K in fees and over $44K in costs.
Part of Plaintiffs’ award includes costs related to eDiscovery costs and expenses. Defendants objected to Plaintiffs’ request to recover eDiscovery costs, arguing that 28 U.S.C. § 1920 does not include eDiscovery in its definitions of taxable costs because the majority of the eDiscovery expenses were not for making copies or exemplification. However, Plaintiffs did not seek to recover their eDiscovery expenses as taxable costs under Section 1920; instead, Plaintiffs sought an award of nontaxable expenses under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. The court ruled that payments to electronic discovery vendors are “expenses of litigation” as set forth under Section 1988, which permits civil rights plaintiffs to recover such expenses. As a result, the court overruled Defendants’ objections and awarded Plaintiffs their eDiscovery costs.