This matter began in 2011 when Sergio Ramirez tried to purchase a car and was denied due to inaccurate data placed in his credit file by TransUnion LLC. The credit bureau erroneously connected Ramirez to the terrorist watch list maintained by OFAC. Ramirez, on behalf of himself and 8,184 additional members, filed a suit declaring multiple class claims under FCRA. Of the members, only 1,853 “had their credit reports disseminated to potential creditors.” The federal district court granted certification on each of the FCRA claims and the jury awarded each class member more than $7000 for FCRA violations and punitive damages. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the statutory damages but reduced the punitive damages.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine if either Article III or Rule 23 permits a damages class action where most of the members (6,332 out of 8,185) demonstrated no actual harm since the credit reports were not dispersed to outside parties. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court held that members of the class-action lawsuit who did not suffer concrete harm lacked standing to sue under Article III. “Further, the Court held that the risk of future harm to consumers based on the misleading credit reports, which had not been distributed to any third-party, does not confer Article III standing to seek retrospective damages.” (See TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, No. 20-297, 2021 WL 2599472 (U.S., June 25, 2021). If a person writes a defamatory letter and puts it in a drawer where no one sees it, yes it is defamatory, but there are no concrete damages.
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William “Pat” Huttenbach | Shareholder | Banking Litigation
Crain Caton & James | Attorneys & Counselors
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