Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Emotional Distress Worth $150,000
Via I've Been Mugged, we find that the Fourth Circuit has recently upheld the liability of Equifax for failing to correct errors in a credit report caused by identity theft (the case, Sloane v. Equifax, can be found here). In general, this isn't groundbreaking stuff. After all, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit reporting agencies to remove errors from consumer files, and gives consumers the right to sue for damages if they don't. What is interesting in the Fourth Circuit's decision though, is what they did with Equifax's liability. Originally, the trial court had awarded the plaintiff $106,000 in economic damages for Equifax's violation of the law, and $245,000 for pain and suffering. The Fourth Circuit however, felt that this award was out of line with the damages which had been awarded in other FCRA cases, and libel cases, which are similar in that individuals claim damage based on false statements made about them. The result? The Fourth Circuit decided that the plaintiff was entitled to no more than $150,000 and number which, while clearly based on the facts of the particular case will undoubtedly be used as a guideline in future cases determining damages under the FCRA.