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COURT COSTS

Today, the New York Post reported that the widow of Yankee’s Pitcher Cory Lidle was ordered to pay $80,000 in court costs for losing a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the plane Lidle was in when he crashed into a Manhattan apartment building.

The Post article is copied in its entirety below.

You may ask: When might someone be required to pay the other side’s court costs and/or attorneys’ fees?

1. Attorneys’ fees: Unless there is a specific statute, written contract provision or perhaps a court rule requiring reimbursement of attorneys’ fees, the losing party generally does not have to pay the prevailing party’s attorneys’ fees.  Costs can be a different story.

An example of a statute that allows a successful plaintiff to recoup attorneys’ fees and costs from the defendant is 42 U.S.C. 1983, the “civil rights law.”  If you prevail at trial, your attorneys can apply to the court to have their fees paid by the losing party. When you sign a retainer agreement with an attorney for this type of case (false arrest, malicious prosecution, excessive force), there should be a provision, which states that your attorney may select the contingency fee (usually one third of the net recovery), or,  in lieu of the contingent fee, the attorney may elect to apply to the court for reimbursement of his/her fees.  If the latter, the client may keep the entire net recovery while the attorney would be paid for services from the additional court awarded fees.

Please take note: As far as contract provisions, the language should be clear to satisfy the exacting “unmistakable intent” standard established by the Court of Appeals in Hooper Assoc., Ltd. v. AGS Computers, Inc., 74 N.Y.2d 487 (1989)

However, absent a statute or contract provision permitting fee shifting, the successful litigant will not be reimbursed for attorneys’ fees from the unsuccessful party.

2. In Federal Court, the rules allow the prevailing party to recoup its costs (not attorneys’ fees absent a specific statute permitting an award of fees).  Taxable costs include court filing fees, witness fees, transcript costs, etc.  See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) and 28 U.S.C. § 1920.  For a discussion of the federal rule, take a look at: https://www.mad.uscourts.gov/resources/pdf/taxation.pdf

Cory Lidle’s widow, along with the pilot’s widow, filed their cases in federal court. Since they did not prevail, the above rules permit the defendants to make an application to the court clerk and/or judge for an award of costs.  See the link, above, to determine what are considered “taxable” costs in federal court.

3. For actions brought in New York State courts, costs (and attorneys’ fees in rarer circumstances) that may be reimbursed to the prevailing party are described in the New York Civil Practice Rules.  There are extensive rules pertaining to a variety of issues, types of costs, types of actions, etc. Take a look at Articles 80 – 86 of the New York Civil Practice Rules (NY CPLR). Here is a link to the CPLR: https://law.justia.com/codes/new-york/2006/civil-practice-law-rules/

Yankee Widow 80-grand slammed in crash suit

By BRUCE GOLDING

https://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/yankee_widow_grand_slammed_in_crash_RibVOE9irgT76cl65DAPKK

Last Updated: 3:25 AM, February 4, 2013

Posted: 2:35 AM, February 4, 2013

The widow of late Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle is crying foul after being ordered to pay more than $80,000 for losing a suit over the private-plane crash into a Manhattan high-rise that killed her husband. “It’s an injustice compounded on an injustice,” said lawyer Todd Macaluso, who represents Melanie Lidle. Lawyers for aircraft maker Cirrus Design Corp. won a judgment for court costs against Melanie and Stephanie Stanger, whose husband, professional pilot Tyler Stanger, also died in the 2006 Upper East Side wreck. It’s unclear if Cirrus will also seek to recoup its huge legal fees for successfully battling the women’s product-liability claims. The tragic widows alleged that defects in the design of Cory Lidle’s Cirrus SR20 caused its controls to lock up during a U-turn over the East River. A Manhattan federal jury took just three hours to clear the company in 2011, and an appeals court unanimously upheld the verdict last month. Macaluso blamed the outcome on pretrial rulings that kept jurors from learning that Cirrus recalled all its SR20’s and changed the manufacturing process after the deadly incident. Lawyers for Cirrus didn’t return requests for comment. [email protected]

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