Virtual Deposition Interpreting Services via Zoom
We’ve blogged before about deposition interpreting services via video-conference in the time of COVID-19 and the numerous difficulties and disputes that have arisen since remote depositions have become the norm. We’ve also blogged before about legal translation of contracts and the issues that can arise when individuals sign agreements without understanding the language in which they are written. The case below, Cano v. 245 C&C, LLC involves both of these types of language pitfalls, highlighting the need for certified legal translators and interpreters whenever possible.
Lawsuit Alleging FHA Violations
The plaintiffs filed suit against their landlord alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) for failing to accommodate one of the plaintiffs who was disabled. In their complaint, the plaintiffs sought a trial by jury. The defendants moved to strike the plaintiffs’ jury demand, and the plaintiffs later filed numerous motions related to the parties’ Zoom depositions.
Defendants Argue Plaintiffs Waived Right to Jury Trial.
The defendants responded to the plaintiffs’ lawsuit and jury demand with a motion to strike, arguing that the plaintiffs’ lease agreement, signed by the plaintiff husband and wife, contained a waiver of a right to a trial by jury. The plaintiffs argued that they were entitled to a jury pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 38 and the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs also argued that the Spanish-speaking wife did not understand the jury trial waiver clause in the lease agreement she signed because she did not speak English. The plaintiffs further argued that the FHA invalidated a jury waiver clause.
The court granted the defendants’ motion to strike the plaintiffs’ jury demand. The court found that that the husband was sophisticated enough to understand the meaning of the jury waiver as he had been a licensed insurance agent who read and explained insurance policies to his clients. As to the wife, the court stated that, according to Larach v. Std. Chtd. Bank Int’l (Americas) Ltd., 2011 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 163670 at *30 (S.D. Fla. Jun. 7, 2011), “it is axiomatic that a person who signs a contract is presumed to know its contents.” The court further reasoned that the wife had signed the renewal leases as well as the response to the defendants’ motion to strike- documents which were all written in English. The court also held that the FHA did not invalidated the jury trial waiver clause in the contract.
Plaintiffs Accuse Deposition Translator of Performing Erroneous Translations and Seek Zoom Recordings
Several months later, after discovery had commenced, the plaintiffs filed a motion to show cause seeking a variety of relief, including a request for the defense counsel to provide the plaintiffs with a copy of the recordings taken during certain Zoom depositions. Plaintiffs also sought an order prohibiting the defendants from using the plaintiffs’ deposition transcripts, among other things. The plaintiffs argued that defense counsel engaged in unprofessional behavior during the plaintiffs’ depositions such as raising her voice, appearing angry, being argumentative, asking “tricky” questions to confuse the witnesses, and preventing witnesses from speaking.
The plaintiffs also claimed that the court reporter and defense counsel conspired to change the plaintiffs’ deposition testimony in a way that would be favorable to the defendants and that the deposition interpreter provided erroneous translations. For example, the plaintiffs argued that words “Yes, Ma’am” were incorrectly translated to “Yes, sir.” The plaintiffs also sought copies of the Zoom recordings of their depositions on the grounds that they needed the recordings in order to review the deposition transcripts and to make sure that defense counsel didn’t “forge” them.
The court denied the plaintiffs’ requests for relief. The court held that objections or complaints about a court reporter’s transcription of a deposition must be promptly brought to the court’s attention pursuant to F.R.C.P. 32 (d)(4), and that the plaintiffs had waited too long before filing their motion. The court also held that it would not compel the defendants’ counsel to supply the plaintiffs with a copy of the Zoom deposition recordings. The court reasoned that the plaintiffs have already stated that even if the recordings are produced, they suspected those recordings may have been “forged.” Specifically, the court held that “ordering the defendants’ counsel to produce the Zoom recordings will serve no purpose other than to continue to fuel the plaintiffs’ baseless conspiracy theories.”
The case is Cano v. 245 C & C, LLC, Court No. 19-21826, motion decided on March 19, 2020 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida and Cano v. 245 C & C, LLC, Court No. 19-21826, motion decided on December 10th, 2020.
Legal deposition interpreting firm All Language Alliance, Inc. provides certified remote deposition interpreters for online depositions via Zoom and in-person deposition interpreters for on-site depositions in all foreign languages, including Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Amharic, Somali, Cantonese, Mongolian, Oromo, Russian, French, Italian, Japanese, Nepali, Turkish, Uzbek, and other languages.
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