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Saturday, May 2, 2009

A little bit about me

I have been practicing law since 1999 but have worked for attorneys since my senior year in high school in 1991. My first legal experience came as a lowly runner for a very successful husband and wife law firm - the now defunct Lewis & Lewis, P.A. Mike and Pauline Lewis were excellent attorneys and quickly took me on as an apprentice. I quickly worked my way up to paralegal and got to attend many trials, first because I was good at carrying file boxes into the courthouse and later because I show an aptitude for the legal profession. Thanks to Mike and Pauline, I had witnessed several trials, including multi-million dollar verdicts, before even stepping foot into law school.

Mike and Pauline also had what was at the time the largest verdict against a credit bureau, a $4.47 million dollar verdict against Trans Union in the Northern District of Mississippi, Eastern Division in Aberdeen, Mississippi. The plaintiff in the case was a victim of identity theft when his brother allegedly stole his identity and opened several accounts and even bought a vehicle in the plaintiff's name. This was Mike and Pauline's first case (and mine too) utilizing the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Pauline initially was just trying to help the plaintiff clear up his credit by writing dispute letters on his behalf. When that didn't work, they sued Trans Union, who removed the inaccurate and fraudulently opened accounts and paid a confidential settlement. The story should have ended here but, as so often happens with the credit bureaus, the inaccurate information reappeared on the plaintiff's credit report. Mike and Pauline sued Trans Union again for the plaintiff and this time refused to settle. The case went to trial in 1996 (my first year in law school) and resulted in a $50,000 compensatory award and a $4.47 million dollar punitive verdict.

The verdict was appealed and, in my opinion, wrongly reversed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana. However, the plaintiff was able to make history, get Trans Union's attention and the national press from the verdict resulted in Mike and Pauline (and eventually me) getting hired by clients all over the nation to represent them against Trans Union and the other credit bureaus.

Since then, Mike and Pauline have retired from the practice of law but I have continued to represent consumers in litigation against the credit bureaus all over the nation, from my home in Mississippi to Montana, New York, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Kansas, Colorado, Connecticut and Maryland, to name a few.

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