The U.S. District Court for the NMI has ordered former Japanese professional baseball player Kouichi Taniguchi to appear in court on Oct. 30, 2012 at 8:30am either personally or through counsel and explain why he should not continue to be held in civil contempt of court.
The District Court issued an order on March 20, 2009 finding Taniguchi in contempt of court after he and his counsel failed to appear at a show-cause hearing. The court then ordered Taniguchi to pay $100 to the clerk of court every day until he appears in court of complies with the court's order to pay costs.
Senior Judge Alex R. Munson in an order issued on Friday said the clerk of court has no record of any payments having been made and that Taniguchi did not subsequently appear in court.
Taniguchi sued Kan Pacific Saipan Ltd., owner of Marianas Resort and Spa, in 2008 for alleged negligence over the injuries he suffered when the hotel's wooden deck where he was standing on collapsed. The plaintiff used to play in Japan for the Yomiuri (Tokyo) Giants and in the U.S. for the New York Mets.
During the litigation, Kan Pacific retained a document translator, Colin P.A. Jones, to translate written documents from Japanese to English.
Then U.S. District Court for the NMI chief judge Munson granted Kan Pacific's cross-motion for summary judgment on Dec. 22, 2008. The judge ordered that Taniguchi shall take nothing from his lawsuit.
Kan Pacific then submitted a bill of costs, which requested the taxation of $5,517.20 for “compensation of interpreters.” This amount included $260 that Kan Pacific had spent to compensate an interpreter, Kayoko Irinaka, during his deposition. The remaining $5,257.20 was payment made by Kan Pacific to translator Jones for his document translation services.
Munson taxed the entire amount, $5,517.20 as “compensation of interpreters.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in March 2011 affirmed Munson's decision. The Ninth Circuit ruled that Taniguchi did not provide enough evidence to dispute Kan Pacific's lack of negligence.
On translation costs issue, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the District Court acted within its discretion when it awarded costs to Kan Pacific for expenses incurred to translate relevant documents.
Taniguchi, through counsels Douglas F. Cushnie and Donald B. Ayer, filed a petition before the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit's decision that favored Kan Pacific.
For the first time in CNMI history, a case on Saipan got a full hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court. The issue presented was compensation of interpreters.
Taniguchi raised the question whether costs incurred in translating written documents are “compensation of interpreters.”
In May 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that interpretation and translation are not the same thing when it comes to paying fees associated with federal civil lawsuits.
The high court ruled that Kan Pacific did not deserve to get $5,517.20 in compensation for interpreters for fighting off the lawsuit.
Subsequently, the Ninth Circuit reversed the grant of costs and remanded the case for proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion.
In his order issued on Friday, Munson said in its opinion, the Supreme Court held that “compensation of interpreters” pursuant to the law “is limited to the cost of oral translation and does not include the cost of document translation.”
Munson said the high court did not define oral translation and left it to the trial courts to “draw the line between taxable and nontaxable costs” in cases that present “hybrid” translation tasks that are “not entirely oral or entirely written.”
However, Munson said, the high court's discussion strongly suggests that only costs associated with oral translation of witness testimony in trial or deposition are taxable.
As the high court noted, the judge said, none of the translation services in this case presents a “hybrid situation.”
Therefore, Munson said, the award of $5,517.20 for translation services is rescinded.
Munson said the award of $2,215 for court reporter fees is unaffected by the Supreme Court's opinion and is reimposed.
Munson said other matter that requires attention was that, on Jan. 15, 2009, the District Court denied Taniguchi's request to stay payment of taxed costs pending appeal.
The judge said the court indicated that Taniguchi may either pay costs directly to defense counsel or deposit the amount with the court's registry to be held pending resolution of the appeal.
When Taniguchi failed to pay, Kan Pacific applied for an order in aid of judgment.
Taniguchi and his counsel failed to appear at the March 20, 2009 show-cause hearing in District Court, prompting the judge to hold the plaintiff in civil contempt.