Just weeks ago, a California judge denied Trans Union’s appeal of a $60 million verdict against it for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). A jury determined Trans Union was liable when it confused over 8,000 consumers’ names with the names of criminals and terrorists on a government watch list. Five years after the case was filed, the consumer class was awarded statutory and punitive damages exceeding $60 million. On appeal, the judge stated the jury was justified in reaching such a hefty verdict.
Trans Union’s Appeal Statement
In its appeal, Trans Union argued that the consumer class members could not prove an injury that was similar to the named plaintiff. The judge disagreed with Trans Union’s argument and stated that the jury’s decision was based on substantial evidence and that there was no reason to set aside the award.
Violating the FCRA
In its decision, the jury ordered Trans Union to pay just over $8 million in statutory damages and $52 million in punitive damages. The reason for the large award is because it found Trans Union willfully violated the FCRA when it linked innocent consumers with similarly named terrorists that were on the terrorist watch list. In 2011, when the main plaintiff, Sergio Ramirez, attempted to purchase a vehicle, he was not approved and told his name matched two people included on the United States terrorist watch list. When the plaintiff contacted Trans Union to find out how to correct the error, he was not told what he could do to have the information removed from his credit file.
Proving Damages to Consumers
While Trans Union is not arguing that it did not violate the FCRA, it is attempting to argue on appeal that the plaintiffs cannot prove damages, an area of contention under the FCRA for many consumer plaintiffs. The judge did not address this issue head-on, but only continued to justify the award in stating that more than 8,000 plaintiffs were affected by Trans Union’s conduct which was justification enough.
If you believe your rights have been violated under the FCRA, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review.