Can an Interpreted Deposition Exceed the Seven-Hour Deposition Time Limit?

Deposition Interpreter Services and Rules of Civil Procedure

Foreign language depositions involving deposition interpreters are an essential part of the discovery process in civil litigation. They allow parties to obtain information and evidence from witnesses under oath, which can be used to support their claims or defenses at trial. However, interpreted depositions are also subject to time limits, which vary depending on the jurisdiction, the type of case, and the circumstances of the witness. In some situations, parties may seek additional time for depositions beyond the default seven-hour limit, either by agreement or by court order. This blog post examines some of the factors and scenarios that may warrant extra time for depositions in state and federal courts.

For cases in Federal Court, FRCP 30(d) provides that “Unless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, a deposition is limited to one day of 7 hours. The court must allow additional time . . . if needed to fairly examine the deponent or if the deponent, another person, or any other circumstance impedes or delays the examination.

In the Rule 30 drafters’ notes, the need for a deposition interpreter is one of the first circumstances mentioned as justification for a court order extending deposition time limits (“For example, if the witness needs an interpreter, that may prolong the examination.”)

In applying this discretionary exception to the 7-hour deposition rule, there is a wide degree of latitude across federal courts. Although some judges apply a default rule of thumb that “the use of an interpreter during the deposition, essentially doubl[es] the time needed to conduct the deposition”, (Mercado-Salinas v. Bart Enters. Int’l) other courts decline to adopt the doubling rule and instead make significantly smaller adjustments, claiming that an “additional hour beyond the seven-hour limit set out in Rule 30(d)(1) should accommodate the need for an interpreter to be present.” (DRFP, LLC v. Venezuela).

Below we highlight a few applications of the state court analogues to FRCP 30(d)(1). We highlight two California cases and one out of Nevada. Although the statutory language in each state is almost identical to the federal rule, neither California nor Nevada seems to follow the “doubling” rule nor the “one extra hour” rule when determining the appropriate length for depositions involving interpreters.

Obstructive Attorneys and Uber-long Depositions in California

Our second case for today is Baklayan v. Uber Techs. The case involves Maria Del Carmen Baklayan, who sued Uber Technologies, Inc. and other defendants for personal injury after she was involved in a car accident. Her complaint alleged that on November 17, 2017, she was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Evan Omar Nunez, who was working for Uber at the time. She claimed that Nunez collided with another vehicle driven by Andrew Hu, who was also working for Uber. She alleged that Hu was negligent and caused the accident, and that Uber and its subsidiaries were vicariously liable for Hu’s and Nunez’s actions. She sought damages for her medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of earnings, and other losses.

As part of his defense of the case Hu scheduled and conducted a deposition of Plaintiff Baklayan. Per California Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) 2025.290, Baklayan’s deposition was initially scheduled for seven hours, and was conducted with the assistance of a Spanish deposition interpreter.
When the scheduled deposition time ran out, Hu’s attorney tried to reschedule Baklayan for a second day of questioning, consisting of five additional hours. Plaintiff refused, instead arguing that 65 minutes was the most they would agree to in a new deposition session.

Hu’s Motion for Additional Time to Conduct Plaintiff’s Deposition

Hu filed a motion arguing that the default seven hour time limit was insufficient and requesting five additional hours to complete Baklayan’s deposition, based on the following factors: 1) there were multiple parties, and the case involved complex issues, 2) depositions conducted via interpreters always take longer, because of the time required for translating questions and answers, and 3) Plaintiff’s attorney was unfairly obstructive by lodging improper objections and instructing Plaintiff not to answer questions. The motion also requested sanctions against Baklayan.

Court’s Analysis Supports Additional Time AND Sanctions

The court granted Hu’s motion and found that additional time was justified based on the factors Hu pointed out. First, Baklayan and her counsel prevented the first deposition from proceeding as it should. The court reviewed the transcript of Baklayan’s deposition and cited several examples of unnecessary obstructive conduct by Baklayan and her counsel. For instance, the court noted that Baklayan’s counsel objected to a question about whether Baklayan had any prior issues with performing her duties at work before the accident as overbroad, argumentative, vague and ambiguous. The court also noted that Baklayan’s counsel argued with Hu’s counsel over the appropriateness of the question for about 14 pages.

The court pointed out that although the default deposition time limit under CCP is seven (7) hours, the statute also allows for an adjustment on the following grounds: “The court shall allow additional time . . . if needed to fairly examine the deponent or if the deponent, another person, or any other circumstance impedes or delays the examination.” (CCP §2025.290(a))

The court concluded that Hu was entitled to the requested five additional hours to depose Baklayan and ordered Baklayan and her counsel to pay sanctions of $1,400 to Hu for their obstructive conduct.

Deposition Interpretation Services Plus Technical Issues Justify Additional Time

A similar approach was taken by the court in our second state case, De La Rosa v. Pasha Group, an action filed by Plaintiffs Francisco Torres De La Rosa (“Francisco”) and Maria Aurora Torres (“Maria”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) against Pasha Group and others for injuries allegedly sustained by Francisco in a workplace accident.

The deposition of Francisco was conducted via videoconference technology, and was facilitated with the help of a Spanish deposition interpreter. The first day of deposition took 7 hours and 26 minutes.

Defendant asked for seven additional hours, not only because the use of a deposition interpreter slowed the pace of deposition questions and answers, but that English to Spanish interpretation was especially slow when mediated through videoconference technology, which can result in technological difficulties and audio quality issues. Despite Plaintiffs’ opposition to the motion, the court granted three additional hours for completion of Francisco’s deposition. The court also acknowledged that deposition interpreters and video conference technology can cause delays and difficulties during depositions, and parties should plan carefully and use their time wisely to minimize these issues.

You Wynn Some, You Lose Some

Our third state case for today examines a Nevada discovery dispute involving Wynn Resorts and Kazuo Okada, a former board member of Wynn Resorts whose Japanese company owned shares in Wynn. The dispute between Wynn and Okada involved his dismissal from the board and Wynn’s attempt to buy back his shares in the company. As part of its discovery, Wynn scheduled a 10-day deposition of Okada to take place in Las Vegas.

Okada, who is a Japanese citizen and resident of Hong Kong, filed a challenge to the location and duration of his deposition. He argued that the deposition should take place in either Japan or Hong Kong, and should take place over a maximum of 3 days. When the district court was unpersuaded, Okada appealed for a protective order in the Nevada Supreme Court.

With regard to the deposition location, the Court found persuasive Wynn’s argument about the astronomical cost, inconvenience, and inefficiency of requiring Japanese deposition interpreters, videographers, and both parties’ Las Vegas-based attorneys to travel to Tokyo instead of requiring only Okada to travel to Las Vegas.

With regard to the deposition duration, the Court found that the decision to extend deposition beyond the presumptive one day of seven hours was justified by the circumstances: namely: (1) “the witness needs an interpreter,” (2) “the examination will cover events occurring over a long period of time,” (3) “the witness will be questioned about numerous or lengthy documents,” and (4) “the need for each party [in a multiparty case] to examine the witness.”

Unjustified Opposition to a Request for Additional Deposition Time in Interpreted Depositions May Be Sanctionable

The cases discussed in this article illustrate how, despite a default rule of seven-hour depositions, courts may grant additional time for depositions that involve deposition interpreters, especially if they involve other issues such as videoconference technology, complex cases, or multiple parties.  Attorneys deposing witnesses with the help of a deposition interpreter should be prepared to justify their requests for additional time and to use their time wisely to avoid unnecessary delays and costs. And the defending attorney should take note–unjustified opposition to a request for additional deposition time may be sanctionable.

Cases Discussed:

Baklayan v. Uber Techs., 2021 Cal. Super. LEXIS 104449.
De La Rosa v. Pasha Group, 2022 Cal. Super. LEXIS 65560
DRFP, LLC v. Venezuela, 2015 WL 5244440
Mercado-Salinas v. Bart Enters. Int’l, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112266
Okada v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct., 359 P.3d 1106, 131 Nev. 834 (2015).

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