Last week, the 9th Circuit put on hold its decision in Ramirez v. TransUnion LLC while the company seeks resolution before the U.S. Supreme Court.
As reported by Law 360,
The Ninth Circuit had denied the credit reporting agency’s request for a rehearing on April 8. TransUnion had argued that the panel majority’s Feb. 27 finding that every class member had standing and that the class representative was typical of the group was “wrong at every turn.”
“The combined effect of those errors puts thousands of dollars in punitive and statutory damages in the pockets of thousands of absent class members who suffered no Article III injury, let alone experienced anything like the class representative,” TransUnion said in its March 12 petition for a panel or full court rehearing of the partially split decision.
In this case, the lead plaintiff, Sergio Ramirez, was denied a car loan because TransUnion told lenders that he potentially matched two entries in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s database of criminals and terrorists. The class argued that TransUnion didn’t ensure accuracy as required by the FCRA by cross-checking OFAC name hits with other results, such as birth dates.
The 9th Circuit upheld a jury’s award of $8.1 million in statutory damages against TransUnion but reduced the punitive damages to $3,936.88 per class member down from $6,353.08. Again, Law 360 noted that
TransUnion has asserted that class representative Ramirez said that for more than 75% of the 8,814 absent class members, no third party ever saw a credit report. For the remaining 1,852 class members, the credit reporting agency said that Ramirez presented no evidence that the dissemination of a report affected them at all, according to its denied petition.
The Ninth Circuit majority concluded that the fact that TransUnion made the reports available to numerous potential creditors and employers is sufficient to show a material risk of harm. But the credit reporting said that’s a hypothetical risk that the Supreme Court has made clear “does not cut it” to establish concrete injury.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More