Kouichi Taniguchi (plaintiff) was a professional baseball player in Japan who was injured while touring the property of Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd. (Kan Pacific) (defendant). Taniguchi sued Kan Pacific to recover for the injuries. Before trial, Kan Pacific paid to have certain written documents translated from Japanese to English in order to prepare a defense. The trial court granted summary judgment to Kan Pacific and awarded the costs of the translation to Kan Pacific under 28 U.S.C. § 1920, which allowed costs to be awarded to prevailing parties in federal lawsuits. Previously, the Court Interpreters Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1827, had added the compensation of interpreters to § 1920 as a cost that could be awarded to a prevailing party. The district court determined that the costs of written-document translation qualified as the compensation of an interpreter. The court of appeals affirmed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.