Supreme Court: Interpretation and Translation Different

May 22, 2012

The Supreme Court says interpretation and translation are not the same thing when it comes to paying fees associated with federal civil lawsuits.

The high court ruled Monday that Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd. did not deserve to get $5,517.20 in compensation for interpreters for fighting off a lawsuit from a Japanese professional baseball player.

The company argued that translating written documents was the same as “compensation of interpreters,” which can be charged to losing parties.

The court disagreed. This came in a case where Japanese professional baseball player Kouichi Taniguchi sued a resort owned by Kan Pacific after falling through a wooden deck while in the Northern Mariana Islands. A federal judge and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out his lawsuit and awarded costs to Kan Pacific.

The opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, who noted that justices made the decision available in English. “Anybody who wants to read it in another language will have to pay to have it translated, not interpreted,” he joked.

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