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CNH Industrial America LLC v. Jones Lang Lasalle Americas, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

September 19, 2019




         1. INTRODUCTION

         On September 30, 2016, after a trial to the Court, judgment was entered in this matter in favor of the plaintiff, CNH Industrial America LLC (“CNH”), for approximately $3 million. (Docket #179). This judgment exceeded by several hundred thousand dollars the amount for which CNH offered to settle with the defendant, Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. (“JLL”), a month and a half earlier. (Docket #187-7).

         Following trial, on October 13, 2016, CNH timely submitted its bill of costs totaling $304,153.49. (Docket #186). JLL objected to some of those costs, including the biggest-ticket item: photographs of the signs at all of CNH’s dealerships. (Docket #197). CNH responded to JLL’s objections. (Docket #201). On February 6, 2017, the Clerk of Court issued its taxation of costs, taxing costs in the amount of only $24,695.50. (Docket #212).

         Both parties appealed. (Docket #193 and #203).[1] During the pendency of the appeal, CNH filed motions before this Court seeking an amendment of the judgment to include statutory interest and double taxable costs pursuant to Wisconsin law, as well as review of the taxation of costs issued by the Clerk of the Court on February 6, 2017. (Docket #189 and #213). The Court agreed to review the issues presented in CNH’s motions, but not before the appeal was resolved. (Docket #222).

         On March 12, 2018, the Court of Appeals issued its mandate, affirming this Court’s judgment. (Docket #223). The parties attempted to resolve their disputes about costs and interest without resort to further motion practice in this Court, including by mediating their issues before Magistrate Judge David E. Jones, but those efforts were not successful. See (Docket #230 and #231). In light of this, CNH has again filed a motion for statutory interest, double costs, and review of the Clerk of Court’s taxation of costs. (Docket #232).

         The parties’ briefing reveals that they agree that CNH is entitled to double its taxable costs, but they dispute the amount of those costs. The parties also disagree as to the rate of interest to be applied to those costs. In this Order, the Court resolves those issues, finally putting this case to bed.

         2. BACKGROUND

         This lawsuit arose out of a contract dispute. In 2007, CNH began a corporate rebranding program for its New Holland Agriculture line of products (the “Rebranding Program”). (Docket #174 at 4, Proposed Findings of Fact; Docket #178 at 5, Transcript of Bench Trial Decision wherein the Court adopted the parties’ proposed facts). The Rebranding Program would involve, among other things, the manufacture and installation of new signs at more than one thousand CNH dealers in the United States and Canada. (Docket #174 at 4). CNH retained JLL as its project manager for the Rebranding Program. Id. at 5. CNH and JLL entered into a service agreement under which JLL was obligated to research and document warranty information for all raw materials and sub-components, oversee manufacturing that met JLL’s and CNH’s expectations for quality control, negotiate the best possible warranty program for the signs, disclose all elements of the warranty program to CNH, and provide ongoing management services for warranties for one year following installation. Id. at 5–6.

         At trial, CNH proved that JLL breached these obligations, causing CNH to suffer $5,482,735.00 in damages in replacing failed signs manufactured with defective vinyl. (Docket #178 at 20; Docket #179). The Court further determined that a contractual limitation on liability provision contained in the parties’ agreement was enforceable, and, in accordance with its terms, CNH’s recovery was limited to such amounts as CNH previously paid as project management fees to JLL, which amounted to $3,026,361.60, together with any additional amounts that JLL may successfully recover from third-party service providers. Id.

         3. ANALYSIS

         3.1 REVIEW OF COSTS

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) permits courts to award costs to a prevailing party. The Court may award costs that “fall into one of the categories of costs statutorily authorized for reimbursement.” Cefalu v. Vill. of Elk Grove, 211 F.3d 416, 427 (7th Cir. 2000). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1920, a court may tax the following expenses as 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 copies of papers 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 interpretative services under 28 U.S.C. § 1828.

         In the instant motion, CNH asks this Court to review the Clerk’s taxation of costs and increase the taxed amount by $279,457.99. With the strictures of Section 1920 in mind, the Court turns to the specific categories of costs CNH seeks to recover.

         3.1.1 Photographs of signs ...

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