On May 11, 2021, in the case of Jacquety v. Baptista, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied Mr. Jacquety’s request to have his child returned to Morocco under the Hague Abduction Convention. On July 19, 2021, the court addressed Ms. Baptista’s request for costs pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1920 and 1923, Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and SDNY Local Civil Rule 54.1. She initially requested $115,057.62, but then reduced her request to $87,305.06. Mr. Jacquety argues that the costs should be limited to $18,105.34. (As a reminder, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act permits the following: “Any court ordering the return of a
child pursuant to an action brought under section 4 [22 USCS § 9003] shall order the respondent to pay necessary
expenses incurred by or on behalf of the petitioner, including court costs, legal fees, foster home or other care during the course of proceedings in the action, and transportation costs related to the return of the child, unless the respondent establishes that such order would be clearly inappropriate.”).
FRCP 54 states that unless a federal statute, the FRCP or a court order states otherwise, costs (other than attorney’s fees) should be allowed to the prevailing party. 28 U.S.C. 1920 lists six categories of recoverable costs: (1) fees of the clerk and marshal, (2) fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case, (3) fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses, (4) fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case, (5) docket fees under 28 U.S.C. 1923, and (6) compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services under 28 U.S.C. 1828. Section 1920 should be read narrowly, and is limited to relatively minor and incidental expenses. The court is not mandated to award these costs – it is discretionary.
The SDNY went through all costs claimed by the Respondent, clarified 1920 and what is permitted and not, and ordered the Respondent to file an amended bill of costs consistent with the court opinion.