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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fifth Circuit affirms FCRA verdict


The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently affirmed a verdict in a Fair Credit Reporting Act case from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas against consumer finance company Santander Consumer USA.  In the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that Santander failed to properly investigate his disputes of its erroneous publications to the credit bureaus.  The jury agreed and found that Santander had negligently failed to properly investigate the plaintiff's disputes.  Santander did not dispute the jury's finding of liability on appeal but did dispute the sufficiency of the plaintiff's proof of the damages he suffered.  However, the Fifth Circuit found the plaintiff's proof to be sufficient to affirm the verdict.

Santander contended on appeal that the proof of the plaintiff's damages resulting from the inclusion of the erroneous listing of the Santander account on his credit report was not sufficient to support the verdit in the consumer's favor.  The consumer's damages included a lowered credit limit, increased interest rate on a refinanced mortgage, the deferment of personal expenditures due to the uncertainty of his credit situation and mental pain and anguish, embarrassment, and difficulties caused to family and business relationships.  While the Fifth Circuit found that a diminution of his credit line alone is not sufficient to support the damage award, the Court found the rest of the plaintiff's proof sufficient to support the $20,437.50 verdict in his favor.  The consumer's attorney should also be entitled to his attorneys' fees to be paid by Santander, an amount which, given the time spent trying the case and then having to defend an appeal, should dwarf the verdict.

It is good to see the Fifth Circuit affirm a verdict like this.  It even cited one of my old cases, Cousin v. Trans Union Corp., as support for the plaintiff's damage claim.  

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