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RULE 54. JUDGMENTS AND COSTS

July 25, 2011

RULE 54.01: DEFINITION — FORM.

“Judgment” as used in these rules includes a decree and any order from which an appeal lies. A judgment need not contain a recital of pleadings, the report of a master, or the record of prior proceedings.

RULE 54.02: MULTIPLE CLAIMS FOR RELIEF.

When more than one claim for relief is present in an action, whether as a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third party claim, or when multiple parties are involved, the court, whether at law or in equity, may direct the entry of a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the claims or parties only upon an express determination that there is no just reason for delay and upon an express direction for the entry of judgment. In the absence of such determination and direction, any order or other form of decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties shall not terminate the action as to any of the claims or parties, and the order or other form of decision is subject to revision at any time before the entry of the judgment adjudicating all the claims and the rights and liabilities of all the parties. [Added July 1, 1979.]

RULE 54.03: DEMAND FOR JUDGMENT.

A judgment by default shall not be different in kind from or exceed in amount that prayed for in the demand for judgment. Except as to a party against whom a judgment is entered by default, every final judgment shall grant the relief to which the party in whose favor it is rendered is entitled, even if the party has not demanded such relief in the party’s pleadings; but the court shall not give the successful party relief, though such party may be entitled to it, where the propriety of such relief was not litigated and the opposing party had no opportunity to assert defenses to such relief.

RULE 54.04: COSTS.

(1) Costs included in the bill of costs prepared by the clerk shall be allowed to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs, but costs against the state, its officers, or its agencies shall be imposed only to the extent permitted by law.

(2) Costs not included in the bill of costs prepared by the clerk are allowable only in the court’s discretion. Discretionary costs allowable are: reasonable and necessary court reporter expenses for depositions or trials, reasonable and necessary expert witness fees for depositions (or stipulated reports) and for trials, reasonable and necessary interpreter fees for depositions or trials, and guardian ad litem fees; travel expenses are not allowable discretionary costs. Subject to Rule 41.04, a party requesting discretionary costs shall file and serve a motion within thirty (30) days after entry of judgment. The trial court retains jurisdiction over a motion for discretionary costs even though a party has filed a notice of appeal. The court may tax discretionary costs at the time of voluntary dismissal. In the event an appeal results in the final disposition of the case, under which there is a different prevailing party than the prevailing party under the trial court’s judgment, the new prevailing party may request discretionary costs by filing a motion in the trial court, which motion shall be filed and served within thirty (30) days after filing of the appellate court’s mandate in the trial court pursuant to Rule 43(a), Tenn. R. App. P.

[As amended by order entered January 23, 1986, effective August 1, 1986, and order entered March 18, 1986, by order entered January 25, 1991, effective July 1, 1991, and by order entered January 28, 1993, effective July 1, 1993; by order filed February 1, 1995, effective July 1, 1995 and by order filed January 23, 2001, effective July 1, 2001, and by by order filed December 10, 2003; effective July 1, 2004.and by order effective July 1, 2005]

Advisory Commission Comments. 54.01: The definition of “Judgment” includes and makes no distinction between “Judgment,” “Order” or “Decree.”

Advisory Commission Comments [1991]. Rule 54.04(3) [deleted in 2001] was formerly numbered Rule 43.06. It is moved here because it has to do with court costs rather than admissibility of evidence.

Advisory Commission Comments [1993]. The amendment to Rule 54.04 is consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion in Lock v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 809 S.W.2d 483 (Tenn. 1991). The expanded rule defines discretionary costs, provides for a timely motion, and makes clear that a notice of appeal will not deprive the trial court of jurisdiction to entertain a motion for discretionary costs.

If the plaintiff takes a voluntary nonsuit, Rule 41.04 gives the trial judge discretion to require payment of costs upon recommencement of the action. Revised Rule 54.04 would permit assessment of costs at an earlier date, assuming the defendant submits and the court enters an order formally dismissing the case pursuant to plaintiff’s nonsuit. A motion for discretionary costs in that instance must be made within thirty days of entry of the order.

Advisory Commission Comment [1995]. This is a clarifying amendment to Rule 54.04(2).

Advisory Commission Comment [2001]. Interpreter fees are added to the list in subsection (2). Consequently prior subsection (3) on court-appointed interpreters is no longer needed, as subsection (2) covers both privately retained and judicially appointed interpreters.

Advisory Commission Comments [2004]. Some experts, including medical doctors, are furnishing reports stipulated by adversaries to be accurate and truthful, thereby avoiding the necessity of a deposition. The amendment to Rule 54.04(2) would allow recovery of related expenses as discretionary costs.

Advisory Commission Comments [2005]. In some cases, the “prevailing party” under the trial court’s judgment may not be the prevailing party following an appeal of the judgment. The amendment to Rule 54.04(2) provides a procedure for requesting discretionary costs in cases in which: (1) the appellate court’s decision is a final disposition of the merits of the case; and (2) the appellate court’s decision results in a new prevailing party. The amendment does not cover cases in which the appellate court’s decision is not a final disposition of merits of the case, i.e., cases that are remanded for a new trial or for other proceedings on the merits; in such cases, a motion for discretionary costs may be filed following the trial court’s ultimate judgment on remand.

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