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Costs Awarded to Prisoner; Denied to Defendants Due to Plaintiff’s Indigency

On August 21, 2009, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton awarded $950.64 to a prevailing prisoner-plaintiff in an excessive force suit.

On January 28, 2009, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Javaris Tubbs on his excessive force claims against four of 16 defendants surrounding his removal from a cell at the Sacramento County Jail. Tubbs was awarded one dollar in nominal damages against four defendants, and $250 in punitive damages against one defendant.

Thereafter, Tubbs moved for an award of costs, and the prevailing defendants moved for costs as well. The district court granted Tubbs’s request for costs, apportioning liability for the $950.64 awarded between each of the losing defendants.

The court denied the defendants’ request for costs, holding that such an award would be “inequitable” because of Tubbs’s “limited financial resources and the possibility that the imposition of the award would have a chilling effect on civil rights litigants.” See: Tubbs v. Sacramento County Jail, 258 F.R.D. 657 (E.D. Cal. 2009)

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Related legal case

Tubbs v. Sacramento County Jail