Standing to Sue: Damages? Razilov

Who has the right to bring FCRA and related claims for credit reporting abuses? What if the plaintiff dies? Can a spouse join in the suit for damages?
David A. Szwak

Standing to Sue: Damages? Razilov

Postby David A. Szwak » Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:21 pm

Razilov v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co.
Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2004 WL 3090083

1. Standing.

Under Article III of the United States Constitution, a party who invokes federal court jurisdiction must have standing to sue. The party must show "he personally has suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the defendant." Casey v. Lewis, 4 F.3d 1516, 1519 (9th Cir.1993) (quoting Gladstone Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 99 (1979)). Even though it may have taken an adverse action against the Laphams based on information in a consumer credit report, Nationwide Mutual asserts the premium charged for the automobile insurance policy ultimately did not increase, and, therefore, the Laphams suffered no injury. Nationwide Mutual, therefore, contends the Laphams lack standing to assert a FCRA claim.

The Laphams maintain they have standing to bring this action even if they suffered no actual monetary damages [FN6] because actual monetary damages do not have to be proven in an action to enforce liability under FCRA. The Court agrees. A party who willfully fails to comply with FCRA's requirements is liable to a consumer for actual damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and costs "in the case of any successful action to enforce any liability." 15 U.S .C. § 1681n. See also Casella v. Equifax Credit Info. Serv., 56 F .3d 469, 476 (2d Cir.1995) (citing Boothe v. TRW Credit Data, 557 F.Supp. 66, 71-72 (S.D.N.Y.1982) (punitive damages may be available even if a plaintiff has not sustained any actual damage); Ackerley v. Credit Bureau of Sheridan, Inc., 385 F.Supp. 658 (D.Wyo.1974) (general purpose of FCRA is to protect the reputation of a consumer, and actual damages are only one portion of any award that might be granted); Rasor v. Retail Credit Co., 87 Wash.2d 516, 529 (1976) (actual damages under FCRA are not limited to out-of-pocket losses).

FN6. The Laphams seek nonspecific actual damages based on the loss of the time value of the higher premium initially paid even though the higher
premium was later adjusted by applying the increased portion to future premium payments.

Accordingly, the Court holds the Laphams have standing to bring this action even if they ultimately fail to prove actual out-of-pocket damages.

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