Cases & Deals

Japanese national obtains favorable U.S. Supreme Court ruling in case addressing allocation of litigation costs between parties

Client(s) Taniguchi, Kouichi

On May 21, 2012, the United States Supreme Court decided a significant case regarding the allocation of litigation expenses in civil cases, ruling in favor of Jones Day client Kouichi Taniguchi, in Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd. The Court held that the losing party in a civil action may not be required to reimburse the prevailing party for its costs expended in translating written discovery or other documents.

Mr. Taniguchi, a Japanese national, brought a civil action against the owner of a resort in the Northern Mariana Islands. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, and ordered Mr. Taniguchi to reimburse the resort for the costs it incurred in translating certain documents from Japanese into English. The district court relied on a provision of the taxation-of-costs statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1920, that allows for the prevailing party's expenses for "compensation of interpreters" to be taxed as costs against the other party. Id. § 1920(6). The Ninth Circuit, prior to Jones Day's involvement in the case, affirmed the district court's taxation of document-translation costs against Mr. Taniguchi. Jones Day successfully petitioned for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, and briefed and argued the case on the merits. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s ruling. It held that "both the ordinary and technical meanings of 'interpreter,' as well as the statutory context in which the word is found, lead to the conclusion that § 1920(6) does not apply to translators of written materials," and that document-translation expenses consequently cannot be taxed as costs under that provision.

Jones Day partner Michael Fried (Washington) argued the case.  The Jones Day team also included partner Donald Ayer (Washington) and associates Christopher Smith, Jane Holman, and William Coglianese (Washington).

Read the opinion: Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd., No. 10-1472 (U.S. May 21, 2012).

Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd., 566 U.S. ___ (2012)