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Court Reporting Shell Game

Of Interest to Insurance Claims Industry

Many insurance carriers are given presentations by court reporting outfits, offering a “one-stop” shopping service that will save the carrier on litigation costs.  This can be a very slippery slope for the carrier, because they are unaware of many ways they can be overcharged or charged for items they did not authorize; in addition, there are Rules and Regulations in NJ that can be violated by these “contracting” firms to the detriment of the carrier in terms of direct cost or putting their insured’s case in jeopardy.

Defense counsel have a much better knowledge of the court reporting community than a claims department.  They know the reliable, reputable firms who they’ve worked with in the past.   By forcing defense firms to utilize a hand-picked reporting firm based solely on price can often jeopardize the attorney’s ability to properly defend the claim while costing the carrier more in the long run.

  There are Transcript Format requirements under 13:43-5.9 that require, among other things, a certain amount of lines per page (25) and characters per line (52).  The carrier should be aware that by shrinking the margins and changing the characters per line from 52 to 39, a transcript could be increased by 25%.  A 100-page deposition can quickly turn into 125 pages if these formats are not followed.  In a bill-by-the-page industry, this is a common way “contractors” make up for what initially seemed like a low “per page” price.

NON-LICENSED REPORTERS:  More and more agencies are utilizing non-Certified Court Reporters, who may be in violation of 13:43-2.3 “Employment of temporary registered reporters.”  These are reporters who are either students, or have graduated court reporting school but have yet to pass the State-mandated test.   They are usually paid less than a Certified Reporter, making them attractive to some entities who are billing the carrier at the same rates as they charge for Certified reporters. 

There are a number of Rules governing depositions vis-à-vis a non-licensed reporter, including the fact that the non-licensee must inform all parties/counsel beforehand that they are not Certified; reading and signing is NOT waived; the transcript must be reviewed by a Certified Court Reporter; and appropriate paperwork is to be filed with the Board of Court Reporting. 

An adversary may or may not have the right to object to the use of a transcript at trial if 13:43-2.3 has not been followed. 

Carriers should be aware that under 13:43-5.4 (Prohibited Practices) a “Certified Court Reporter shall not provide or arrange to provide reporting services, in a judicial or quasi-judicial matter and/or a deposition, if he or she is a ‘relative, agent or employee of one of the parties.’”  

Further, #3 indicates that a Certified Court Reporter shall not “enter into or arrange any contract or financial relationship that compromises the impartiality of the certified court reporter…or that may result in the appearance that theimpartiality of the certified court reporter…has been compromised.”

Again, an adversary may or may not have the right to object to a transcript at trial on the grounds that the reporter or the entity who “arranged” for the reporter is a “relative, agent or employee of one of the parties” and that that relationship compromises the impartiality or results in the appearance that the impartiality of the reporter has been compromised. 

For more information on this subject, please read “The Court Reporting Shell Game” and “Fear the Middleman”.


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