In a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) case, a federal jury returned a verdict for CLA's client Mr. Brim and against debt buyer Midland Credit Management in the amount of $723,000. As a prevailing party under the FCRA, Mr. Brim is now entitled to have his attorney's fees and costs added to the verdict.
At trial, the evidence showed that Mr. Brim had paid his Dell account off within 30 days of purchasing his computer via a check by phone. However, Dell never properly posted the payment. Mr. Brim disputed with Dell for several years and then Dell sold the account to Midland. Midland immediately began reporting the account on Mr. Brim's credit report. Brim disputed to the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) on numerous occasions, and a total of 9 notices of electronic dispute were sent to Midland from the CRAs. Midland claimed not to have received all of them but every one of the electronic dispute notices (ACDVs) received by Midland was handled by its "Batch Interface System".
Midland never had a single person actually investigate any of the ACDVs and it never contacted Dell. Midland's position was that it had no responsibility to do anything because its computer "investigated" the dispute when it reviewed the information in Midland's system and compared it with the informatio supplied by the CRAs. Midland's other position was that even if they had contacted Dell, the result would have been the same.
The jury disagreed, found that Midland willfully failed to investigate and awarded $100,000 in actual damages and $623,180 in punitive damages.