Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Court Slaps Credit Agency for Ruining Man's Reputation

Bob Egelko writes in The San Francisco Chronicle:

A federal appeals court has reversed itself and ruled that a Southern California man's rights were violated by a credit agency that put an erroneous court filing on his record, refused to change it when he complained and wrecked his hopes of starting a business.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco had voted 2-1 in May to dismiss Jason Dennis' lawsuit, saying the credit agency had conducted an adequate investigation of his case. But on Tuesday, the same panel, by a 3-0 ruling, not only reinstated the suit but also found the agency negligent for failing to correct the error.

The court told a federal judge who had previously dismissed the suit to decide how much Dennis should receive in damages and attorney's fees from Experian Information Solutions, a credit reporting agency. The court also said Dennis was entitled to a trial on his claim that Experian failed to adopt reasonable procedures to assure accurate reporting, which could lead to additional damages.

"This case illustrates how important it is for Experian, a company that traffics in the reputations of ordinary people, to train its employees to understand the legal significance of the documents they rely on," Judge Alex Kozinski wrote. Kozinski had dissented from the ruling in May, by Judges Diarmuid O'Scannlain and Carlos Bea, that threw out the lawsuit.

More here.


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