Supreme Court issues opinion in case concerning civil procedure

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued an opinion in one case, City of San Antonio, Texas v., L.P. on May 27. The case involved Rule 39 of the Federal Rules for Appellate Procedure. The case was argued before SCOTUS during the April argument sitting last month.

A class of 173 Texas municipalities (“San Antonio”) sued several online travel companies (“OTCs”) over the calculation of hotel occupancy taxes and was awarded a multi-million dollar judgment in federal district court. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled in favor of the OTCs, holding that they had not underpaid their taxes. The OTCs filed a bill of costs in the district court. San Antonio objected and asked the district court to deny or reduce the amount owed. The district court ruled that it was not permitted to alter the appellate cost awards under Rule 39. The municipalities appealed to the 5th Circuit. The 5th Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusion.

In a unanimous opinion, SCOTUS affirmed the 5th Circuit’s ruling, holding that Rule 39 does not allow a district court to change a court of appeals’ allocation of the costs. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the court. 

To date, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued 39 opinions during the 2020-2021 term. Seven cases were decided without argument.

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