Motion for an order taxing costs in California

23 Oct

Filing a motion for an order taxing costs in California is the topic of this blog post. Also discussed is requesting an order striking certain costs claimed in a Memorandum of Costs.

The motion is made pursuant to California Rule of Court 3.1700(b)(1). Taxing costs means that the costs are reduced to a certain amount because the claimed costs are excessive for some reason, striking costs means that the costs are stricken because they are not authorized by law, or for other reasons.

Any party who wants to have certain costs taxed or stricken must serve and file their motion within the time limits specified by California law. Any motion for an order taxing or striking costs in California must be served and filed 15 days after service of the cost memorandum. If the cost memorandum was served by mail, the period is extended as provided in Code of Civil Procedure section 1013. See California Rule of Court 3.1700(b)(1).

And the party filing the motion must also specify which item or items listed on the Memorandum of Costs should be taxed or stricken, unless they are objecting to the entire cost memorandum.

“Unless objection is made to the entire cost memorandum, the motion to strike or tax costs must refer to each item objected to by the same number and appear in the same order as the corresponding cost item claimed on the memorandum of costs and must state why the item is objectionable. ”  See California Rule of Court 3.1700(b)(2).

Note that there is also a deadline for serving and filing a Memorandum of Costs.

California Rule of Court 3.1700(a)(1) states that,  “A prevailing party who claims costs must serve and file a memorandum of costs within 15 days after the date of mailing of the notice of entry of judgment or dismissal by the clerk under Code of Civil Procedure section 664.5 or the date of service of written notice of entry of judgment or dismissal, or within 180 days after entry of judgment, whichever is first. The memorandum of costs must be verified by a statement of the party, attorney, or agent that to the best of his or her knowledge the items of cost are correct and were necessarily incurred in the case.”

If the Memorandum of Costs was not served and filed in accordance with the law, a motion to strike the entire cost memorandum could be filed.

Section 1033.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure states in pertinent part:

“Any award of costs shall be subject to the following:

Allowable costs shall be reasonably necessary to the conduct of the litigation rather than merely convenient or beneficial to its preparation.

Allowable costs shall be reasonable in amount.”

Even if a cost claimed is authorized by law, if it was not reasonably necessary to the conduct of the litigation, or is not reasonable in amount, a motion taxing costs can be filed.

And once items in a cost memorandum are properly objected to, the burden of proof is placed on the party claiming them as costs. See Ladas v. California State Auto Assn. (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 761, 774, rehearing denied. (internal citations and quotations omitted.)

Requesting an order striking certain costs is also appropriate in certain situations.  This is due to the fact that many times a party will attempt to claim costs that are not authorized by any California law, such as fees for experts that were not ordered by the Court, for example, or attorney fees when there is no contractual or other basis for claiming them.

Over 10 years ago I worked on a case where the opposing party attempted to claim costs for witness fees where the witness testified in Court that they had not been paid for their appearance!

Because right to costs is governed strictly by statute, court has no discretion to award costs not statutorily authorized. See Ladas v. California State Auto Assn. 19 CAl.App. 4th, supra at 774, rehearing denied. (internal citations and quotations omitted.)

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