Denial of Interpreter Leads to Summary Judgment Win for Insurer

Legal Interpreting Services for Insurance Litigation

Multilingual legal interpreter services play an important role in insurance litigation. A recent court decision in Cadet v. First Liberty Insurance Corporation underscores the importance of requesting an interpreter if needed during the legal process.

Haitian Creole-Speaking Plaintiff

The plaintiff, Gaetane Cadet, is a native Haitian Creole speaker with limited English proficiency. In October 2018, her home was damaged by flooding. Cadet filed a claim with her home insurer, First Liberty Insurance Corporation (“First Liberty”). First Liberty adjusted the claim and paid Cadet.

Cadet then sued First Liberty, asserting claims for breach of contract, attorneys’ fees, punitive damages, and bad faith failure to pay the full amount owed under her policy. She requested damages for repairs to her home, damage to personal property, and diminution of value to her home.  First Liberty moved for summary judgment on all of Cadet’s claims.

Key Legal Issue – Right to an Interpreter

A key issue in this case is Cadet’s waiver of her right to an interpreter. Neither Cadet nor her attorney requested a Haitian Creole deposition interpreter at her deposition. During the deposition, Cadet occasionally said she did not understand a question or term used by defense counsel. However, she did not object to proceeding without an English to Haitian Creole deposition interpreter or state that she had significant difficulty understanding the questions.

Federal law and many state laws guarantee the right of limited English proficiency individuals to an interpreter in civil legal proceedings. However, this right can be waived if not timely asserted. By failing to request an English to Haitian Creole deposition interpreter or objecting to the lack of one, Cadet was deemed to have waived her right in this case.

Court’s Reasoning and Ruling

The court granted First Liberty’s motion for summary judgment on all of Cadet’s claims. The court found no evidence that First Liberty had handled Cadet’s insurance claim in bad faith.

Cadet’s admissions during her deposition that portions of her damages claim were not in fact related to the 2018 water leak proved fatal to her claims. The court also relied on the deposition transcript in finding no evidence of confusion or lack of understanding by Cadet in proceeding without a deposition interpreter.

Failure to Assert the Right to an Interpreter Can Prejudice Claims and Defenses

This case serves as a cautionary tale for non-native English speakers involved in civil litigation. The right to an interpreter can be crucial to meaningfully participating in depositions, hearings, and trials. Failing to timely assert that right early in a case can seriously prejudice claims and defenses.

Get in touch with legal interpreting and expert witness service All Language Alliance, Inc. to reserve a legal deposition interpreter fluent in Haitian Creole; French; German; Amharic; Somali; Kunama; Arabic; Punjabi; Anuak; Romanian; Mandarin; Polish; Tigrinya; Mennonite Low German; Armenian; and other rare and less common foreign languages for a remote video deposition, or an on-site deposition. Get in touch with our legal document translation service to obtain certified translation of insurance policies; insurance claims; ROR letters from English to Spanish; Thai; Armenian; Haitian Creole; Oromo; Persian; Czech; Portuguese; Korean; Simplified Chinese; and other foreign languages.

(Gaetane Cadet v First Liberty Ins. Corp., 2022 US Dist LEXIS 39855 [ND Ga Mar. 7, 2022, No. 1:20-cv-3159-MLB])

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