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Hardi v. Mezzanotte


medical facility actually made plaintiff whole for the full amount of the claimed medical expenses. It was the tortfeasor's contract that accounted for this result, not the plaintiff's, as far as we can tell.

Here, a private insurance carrier paid appellee's medical expenses. That source is wholly independent of appellants. Because any write-offs conferred would have been a by-product of the insurance contract secured by appellee, even those amounts should be counted as damages. See Jackson, supra note 5, 451 A.2d at 871-73. Therefore, because any write-offs enjoyed by appellee were negotiated by her private insurance company, a source independent of appellants, they should be included in her damages. Under the collateral source rule, she is entitled to all benefits resulting from her contract.


Appellants argue that the trial court awarded costs to appellee which are not recoverable. Specifically, they contend that the costs related to the earlier mistrial are not taxable against them in the second trial. Alternatively, they challenge specific costs, including certain witness fees, deposition transcripts, copying costs, and medical records. Appellee responds that some of appellants' arguments are moot, as the trial court reduced the amount she requested originally, excluding some of their requested costs. Further, she contends that costs associated with the first trial were awarded properly, as the second trial was based upon the testimony and exhibits from the first.

Pursuant to Super. Ct. Civ. R. 54 (d), costs may be awarded to the prevailing party. Harris v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 695 A.2d 108, 109 (D.C. 1997) (citing Super. Ct. Civ. R. 54 (d)(1)) (other citations omitted). The rule provides that "costs other than attorneys' fees shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the Court otherwise directs . . . ." Super. Ct. Civ. R. 54 (d)(1). "The authority of a court to assess a particular item as costs is partly a matter of statute (or court rule), and partly a matter of custom, practice, and usage." Robinson v. Howard Univ., 455 A.2d 1363, 1368-69 (D.C. 1983) (citing Newton v. Consolidated Gas Co., 265 U.S. 78 (1924) (annotation and other citation omitted)). Under Super. Ct. Civ. R. 54-I (b), the costs of depositions and transcripts may be taxed as costs, in the trial court's discretion. Witness fees are recoverable as costs upon compliance with certain technical requirements of Super. Ct. Civ. R. 54-I (a). Whether to award costs is committed to the trial court's discretion, and, upon review, it is not for the appellate court to substitute its discretion for that of the trial court. Harris, 695 A.2d at 110; Robinson, 455 A.2d at 1369 (citations omitted). With these general principles in mind, we consider the trial court's order awarding costs and appellants' challenges to it.

The trial court awarded costs to appellee in the amount of $14,903.92. Appellants contend that there was included improperly in this amount costs incurred in the first jury trial associated with the claim against Dr. Match and the mistrial. They contend that it was error to award these costs because appellee was not the prevailing party on either claim in the first trial. Further, they contend that the only costs necessary for the retrial of appellee's claims were for trial transcripts, which totaled $1,773.00.

In support of their argument that costs related to the mistrial are not taxable, appellants cite United States v. Deas, 413 F.2d 1371 (5th Cir. 1969). Deas concerned whether costs of a mistrial could be taxed under a federal statute, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1918(b), to a criminal defendant convicted in a subsequent trial. Id. at 1372-73. The stat

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