Thursday, July 19, 2012

Winning "Costs" in Superior Court

When I bring an action in Superior Court without a lawyer, I always try to get the other side to reimburse me for my "costs of court."  But, which costs are considered reimbursable?

A good example is my and Jose Delgado's Open Public Meetings Act case against the Camden Board of Education.  After winning the case, Jose and I asked for a court order requiring the Board to pay for the following items:

  • $200.00 lawsuit filing fee paid the the Clerk of the Court.
  • $30.00 filing fee for our Order to Show Cause application.
  • $23.20 that we paid Staples for copying costs.
  • $72.59 for me driving from my home in Somerset to Camden for a court hearing (i.e. 130.8 miles round trip at the IRS approved rate of $.555 per mile.)
  • $9.00 for parking my car in Camden.
  • $40.00 as a special fee, allowed by statute, to those who win a judgment in Superior Court.
Thus, our total request was for $374.79.

Our application was opposed by Lester E. Taylor, III, of Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader, LLC. who represented the Camden Board of Education.  In his February 28, 2012 opposition (which likely cost the Board more in attorney fees to prepare than the cost award that it opposed), Taylor agreed with our requests for $200, $30 and $40, but argued that our requests for the copying, mileage and parking were "overreaching and lack[ing a] basis in law."  I filed a reply to the Board's opposition.

On March 22, 2012, Camden County Assignment Judge F.J. Fernandez-Vina granted Jose's and my request for $374.79.  A copy of the court's order, as well as Jose's and my application, the Board's opposition and our reply are on-line here. (Incidentally, I did not become aware of the court's order until today, as the order was sent to a temporary address which I had requested the court to not send mail.)

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