Supreme Court Grants TransUnion Petition for Certiorari in Class Action

The Court will consider the first question in TransUnion LLC's September 2, 2020 petition which concerns the established standard for injury suffered by proposed class members and their representative. The class action suit alleges that the consumer credit reporting agency violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

TransUnion's petition specifically requests that the Court considers "Whether either Article III or Rule 23 permits a damages class action where the vast majority of the class suffered no actual injury, let alone an injury anything like what the class representative suffered."

The class action, filed in February 2012, alleged that Sergio L. Ramirez (class representative) was unable to purchase a vehicle as a result of information TransUnion delivered to lenders. The representative's information indicated that he was a potential match for two entries in the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)'s database of criminals and terrorists. The class argued that TransUnion failed to ensure accuracy as required by the FCRA by not cross-checking OFAC name hits with other data points, such as date of birth.

In June 2017, a California federal court jury awarded $8.1 million in statutory damages and $52 million in punitive damages. The court concluded that TransUnion violated the FCRA by incorrectly associating certain consumers to similarly named criminals and terrorists in the database. The award for punitive damages was subsequently vacated by a Ninth Circuit panel and remanded to lower court with instructions to reduce the payment per class member. However, in April the court agreed to stay its decision in light of TransUnion's pursuit of an appeal to the Supreme Court.

TransUnion contends that Ramirez failed to demonstrate that a third party ever viewed allegedly negative credit reports associated with the numerous other class members. TransUnion further claims that the Ninth Circuit contradicted its own precedent. In two prior cases, the court had determined that the risk of injury only becomes material when a third party physically accesses documents.

Posted: December 22, 2020

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