Tag Archives: The Plain Dealer (newspaper)

When English Fails to Describe…a Photocopy Machine

Can you identify this machine?

Too much fun is to be had in depositions. The below transcript was reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Lowering the Bar, via the WSJ Law Blog).

The dispute, before the Ohio Supreme Court, is over the costs for photocopying in the Cuyahoga County Clerk’s office. Currently, they are $28 for the first two pages and $8 for every page thereafter.

Yeah. And you thought paper was expensive at Kinkos.

Enter the lawyers for the deposition:

Plaintiffs’ Lawyer: During your tenure in the computer department at the Recorder’s office, has the Recorder’s office had photocopying machines?

Deponent’s Lawyer: Objection.

PL: Any photocopying machine?

Deponent: When you say “photocopying machine,” what do you mean?

PL: Let me be — let me make sure I understand your question. You don’t have an understanding of what a photocopying machine is?

D: No. I want to make sure that I answer your question correctly….When you say “photocopying machine,” what do you mean?

PL: Let me be clear. The term “photocopying machine” is so ambiguous that you can’t picture in your mind what a photocopying machine is in an office setting?

D: I just want to make sure I answer your question correctly.

PL: Well, we’ll find out. If you can say yes or no, I can do follow-ups, but it seems — if you really don’t know in an office setting what a photocopying machine is, I’d like the Ohio Supreme Court to hear you say so.

D: I just want to make sure I answer your question correctly.

DL: There’s different types of photocopiers, Dave.


And it gets better.

D: I’m sorry. I didn’t know what that meant. I understand that there are photocopying machines, and there are different types of them just like –

PL: Are there any in the Recorder’s office?

D: — there are different cars. Some of them run under gas power, some of them under electric power, and I’m asking if you could help me out by explaining what you mean by “photocopying machines” –-

PL: That’s a great point.

D: — instead of trying to make me feel stupid.

PL: If you feel stupid, it’s not because I’m making you feel that way.

DL: Objection.

But wait! There’s more!

PL: Have you ever–do you have machines there where I can put in a paper document, push a button or two, and out will come copies of that paper document also on paper? Do you have such a machine?

D: Yes, sir.

PL: What do you call that machine?

Patterson: Xerox.

PL: Xerox. Is the machine made by the Xerox Company? Is that why it’s called Xerox?

D: No.

PL: So Xerox, in the parlance that you’ve described, the language that you’ve described, is being used generically as opposed to describing a particular brand; is that right?

D: All of my life I’ve just known people to say Xerox. It’s not commonplace to use the terminology that you’re using.

PL: You mean it’s more — people say Xerox instead of photocopy?

D: If you’re referring to a type of machine where you place a piece of paper on the top and press a button and out comes copies of it, they usually refer to it as a Xerox.

PL: Have you ever heard it referred to as photocopying?

D: Not with my generation, no.

Stupid is as stupid does. No wonder it costs $28 for the first two copies. No one in the office knows what a photocopy machine is.

Check it out. It goes on for 10 pages. At the end of it, I can’t tell whether anyone is more enlightened for the discussion.

(h/t to Lowering the Bar)