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Sunday, March 3, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

English Fluency Wasn’t the Issue, Court Rules

(CN) - A Czech woman cannot claim that her allegedly limited understanding of English led her to accept an inadequate personal injury settlement, a New York appeals court ruled.

Tereza Flusserova signed a two-page release in 2008, accepting $19,500 to release contractors from claims related to injuries she sustained when a "genie lift" allegedly fell on her at a construction project.

A year later, however, Flusserova filed a negligence complaint. Claiming that she was not a native English speaker, as an immigrant from the former Czechoslovakia, Flusserova claimed the release was a fraud.

Pointing to evidence that Flusserova spoke six languages and worked as an English-Czech translator, a New York County judge dismissed the case in 2010.

The appellate fivision affirmed last week.

"According to her own testimony, taken in English in the absence of an interpreter, English is only one of several languages plaintiff speaks; she has written college-level papers in English, translated English for Czech speakers and communicated with her coworkers and her boyfriend in English," the unsigned decision states.

"In addition, plaintiff testified that she read the release and did not understand it, but she made no effort to have someone read and explain it before signing it. Accordingly, her claim that she believed she was signing a receipt for the money she was paid does not avail her."

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