Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Page 3


Ninth Circuit Upholds Cost Award for Document Translation Services


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday upheld an award of costs for document translation services in a dispute between a Saipan hotel proprietor and a professional baseball player in Japan.

In an opinion by Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson, the panel concluded that the Marianas Resort & Spa could seek costs even though its litigation expenses had been paid by its insurer and that the award was authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 1920(6).

This statute provides a district court with discretion to order compensation for “special interpretation services.”

Rawlinson acknowledged a split among the circuit courts regarding the statutory interpretation of Sec. 1920(6). The jurist noted that Seventh Circuit precedent does not include translators of written documents within the definition of interpreters, but both the D.C. Circuit and Sixth Circuit have held that awarding costs for translation of documents necessary for litigation is appropriate.

She said she agreed with the D.C. and Sixth Circuits’ reasoning that “the word ‘interpreter’ can reasonably encompass a ‘translator,’ both according to the dictionary definition and common usage of these terms, which does not always draw precise distinctions between foreign language interpretations involving live speech versus written documents.”

Such an approach, Rawlinson said, “is more compatible with Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which includes a decided preference for the award of costs to the prevailing party.”

Since Kouichi Taniguchi had alleged he was injured after he fell through a wooden deck on the resort’s property, causing him to lose compensation from his negotiated contract deals, Rawlinson said Marianas needed his documents and medical records translated to adequately prepare a defense.

Joined by Senior Judge Michael Daly Hawkins and Judge M. Margaret McKeown, Rawlinson concluded in a memorandum opinion that the resort was entitled to summary judgment in Taniguchi’s negligence suit, and in the published opinion that Chief U.S. District Judge Alex R. Munson of the District of the Northern Mariana Islands, now retired, had acted within his discretion in awarding the cost of translating documents necessary to the litigation from Japanese to English.

The case is Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd., 09-15212.


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