June 16, 2008

New Jersey Appellate Division Rules Deposition Service Can Be Sued for Consumer Fraud

By LWUSA Staff

A deposition service can be sued under state consumer fraud law over shorthand reporting provided in a federal lawsuit, the New Jersey Appellate Division has ruled. The plaintiff was a party to a lawsuit filed in federal court. During the course of the litigation, the plaintiff's adversary hired the defendant to transcribe a deposition. Since the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a reporter who transcribes a deposition to furnish a copy to other parties, the plaintiff ordered a transcript from the defendant, which charged him $1,252.

After the federal lawsuit was settled, the plaintiff filed a class action alleging that the defendant violated state law governing shorthand reporting. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant violated state law by using a non-certified shorthand reporter and in failing to provide transcripts in a certain format.

The court decided that this claim was preempted because the federal rules do not impose any requirement regarding the qualifications of shorthand reporters, and do not contain any regulation regarding the formatting of transcripts.

"We are satisfied that, in adopting the Federal Rules, the Supreme Court intended to deal comprehensively with the taking of depositions in connection with federal litigation, 'thus occupying [the] entire field of regulation and leaving no room for the states to supplement [that] federal law,'" the court said.

However, it decided that the plaintiff could sue under state consumer fraud law insofar as his claims were not based on state shorthand reporting standards.

It explained that the plaintiff's "complaint alleges that defendant's 'billing rate for ... transcripts was fraudulent' and that defendant engaged in a 'deceptive practice' in determining its billings. The complaint further alleges that defendant charged an undisclosed 'administrative fee' in addition to the 'stated page rate' for the transcript of his deposition. We are satisfied that these allegations are sufficient to state a claim for relief under the Consumer Fraud Act that is not dependent upon the statute and regulations governing shorthand reporting."

New Jersey Appellate Division. Quigley v. Esquire Deposition Service, No. A-0689-06T50689-06T5. May 19, 2008. Lawyers USA No. 99310030.

Originally published by LWUSA Staff.

(c) 2008 Lawyers USA. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.