Sunday, January 3, 2010

Overhead Cannot Be Included In Award of Costs

In The Landmark Winter Park, LLC v. Colman (5D08-3893), the Fifth District reversed a cost award because it included costs that are considered overhead. The court stated:
the taxation of costs in any particular proceeding is within the broad discretion of the trial court. However, appellate courts have consistently held that certain costs and expenses are not taxable because they are considered overhead. See In re Amendments to Uniform Guidelines for Taxation of Costs, 915 So. 2d 612 (Fla. 2005)....
It was the Buyers' burden to show that all requested costs were reasonably necessary either to defend or prosecute the case at the time the action precipitating the cost was taken. In re Amendments to Uniform Guidelines for Taxation of Costs, 915 So. 2d at 616; see also Ocean Club Cmty. Ass'n, Inc. v. Curtis, 935 So. 2d 513 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006). The Buyers offered no testimony as to why the costs requested should not be treated as overhead and taxed to Seller contrary to the established case law.
We conclude it was improper for the trial court to tax the following overhead costs to the Seller: postage, online research, facsimile charges, courier services, photocopies, scanning documents and trial supplies. Although the Seller contested costs billed to the clients for parking, overtime paralegal work, after-hours heating and air conditioning, mileage, meals and long distance phone calls, it appears these charges were deducted from the amount requested in the attorney's fee affidavit and were not part of the final award. If not, on remand, these costs should be deducted.
The emphasis was added by me to show the items improperly taxed as costs.


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