David Gammon v. Laconia City Clerk

Prevailing Party Entitled to Costs Without Submitting W-9 Form to City
NH Supreme Court No. 2014-0142
Friday, October 10, 2014

The petitioner, David Gammon, brought an equity action to compel the City of Laconia to conduct a recount after its primary election in September 2013. Ultimately, the City agreed to conduct the recount, but the City and Gammon could not reach an agreement related to the payment of Gammon’s costs for bringing the action. The trial court granted Gammon his requested costs but conditioned the City’s obligation to pay on Gammon submitting a completed W-9 form to the City, per the City’s purported policy.

Rule 45 of the New Hampshire Rules of Civil Procedure states that a prevailing party is entitled to be paid certain costs as a matter of right. Here, Gammon was entitled to the court-ordered costs as of right. Therefore, the NH Supreme Court reversed the trial court, holding that “[r]egardless of whether the City’s internal control policy requires that payees of court-ordered costs provide W-9 forms, nothing in Rule 45 purports to obligate a prevailing party to comply with a defendant’s internal accounting policies in order to be entitled to an award of costs.” As a result, the City was required to pay Gammon his approved costs without submitting a completed W-9 form.