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Suffolk, County of v. Secretary of the Interior

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20798
Nos. No. 75-C-208, 76 F.R.D. 469/10 ERC 1938/(E.D.N.Y., 10/26/1977) Defendant's motion for trial costs denied

The court grants plaintiffs' motion denying trial costs to defendants pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 54(d). Although the district court ruled in favor of plaintiffs in a suit against a Department of the Interior sale of oil and gas leases on the outer continental shelf, 7 ELR 20230, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, 7 ELR 20637. Federal defendants were granted costs on appeal by the Second Circuit, but this does not limit the trial court's independent discretion to tax trial costs. Although FED. R. CIV. P. 54(d) allows trial costs to the prevailing party, the court may consider the equities, public interests, and whether the action was brought in good faith involving issues as to which the law is in doubt. These criteria all lead to the denial of costs in this case: the action was brought and prosecuted in good faith; novel issues of fact and law were raised; and important benefits were conferred upon the public and the prevailing litigants. Finally, defendants are better able to bear the burden of their own costs, and bona fide litigation to protect the environment should not be discouraged.

Counsel are listed at 7 ELR 20230.