Court of Appeals Dismisses Plaintiffs for Failure to Preserve and Increases Defendant’s Taxable Costs (5th Circuit)


Moore v. Citgo Co., LP, 735 F.3d 309 (5th Cir. 2013).

In this appellate Fair Labor Standards Act litigation, the class of plaintiffs sought overtime pay for work hours that had been misclassified by the defendant employer. At the trial level, the court dismissed twenty-one of the twenty-four plaintiffs’ claims for failing to preserve documents and other discovery violations. In a separate order, the court granted summary judgment against the remaining members of the class based on the plaintiffs’ inability to prove damages. After final judgment was entered, the defendant submitted a bill of costs for more than $50,000, but the court awarded only $5,000 based on a finding of the defendant’s “enormous wealth” in relation to the plaintiff’s “limited resources.” Both parties appealed. The plaintiffs argued that their discovery abuses were only negligent and the court inferred willfulness in their failure to preserve, while the defendant asserted that the court erred in reducing the cost award. The Fifth Circuit upheld the trial court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion for summary judgment because the plaintiffs’ failure to preserve emails disadvantaged the defendant by not providing information that may have been essential for the defense. With regard to taxable costs, the Fifth Circuit increased the amount awarded to the defendant. The Fifth Circuit relied on language from Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d), which does not call for a comparison of the parties’ financial strength, to conclude that “the fact that the prevailing party is substantially more wealthy than the losing party is not a sufficient ground for denying or limiting costs to the prevailing party.” As such, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s order for summary judgment and increased the cost award in favor of the defendant to $53,000.

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Kroll Ontrack Inc. | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.