Commercial Division Blog

Posted: January 24, 2024 / Written by: Jeffrey M. Eilender, Samuel L. Butt, Seth D. Allen, Joshua Wurtzel, Channing J. Turner / Categories Interpretation, Fees

Court Denies Recovery of Unnecessary Interpreter Fees Expended During Depositions of Parties Who Could Speak English

On November 27, 2023, Justice Joel M. Cohen denied a motion brought by a plaintiff seeking an award of costs expended in interpreter fees at the depositions of two defendants.  The decision in Winnie Tsui, et al. v. Katherine Chou, et al., Index No. 652840/2013, rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that they discovered during two depositions that the parties spoke English sufficiently to answer questions and, thus, no interpreters were necessary after having gone to the trouble and expense of arranging for interpreters.  Plaintiffs argued that the defendants were able to answer questions in English and were therefore shown not to require an interpreter.  The Court, however, relied on an affidavit from the defendants’ daughter attesting that both defendants were born in China and, although conversational in English, do not have a high level of fluency.

The Court explained: 

This Court, having no independent basis to conclude that there was not a legitimate need for Katherine and Robert Chou to use interpreters and the CPLR being quite clear that the expenses associated with taking a deposition are to be borne by the party takin the deposition, finds that the Plaintiffs have not made a sufficient showing of entitlement to shifting its burden of paying for the interpreter. 

The attorneys at Schlam Stone & Dolan frequently litigate cases involving multi-lingual parties and witnesses.  Contact the Commercial Division Blog Committee at commercialdivisionblog@schlamstone.com if you or a client have questions concerning such issues.