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The Supreme Court weighs TransUnion's order to nix the "terrorist list" suit



(Reuters) – The US Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it could limit the scope of a class action lawsuit against TransUnion in which thousands of people claimed damages after the credit reporting company flagged their names matching them on a government list of suspected terrorists and drug smugglers.

The judges heard arguments in TransUnion's appeal of a lower court decision upholding a jury's verdict against the Chicago – based company in the class action and ordering it to pay $ 40 million in damages. Credit reporting companies provide information on individuals' borrowing and billing history to lenders and other companies. correct information, would have ever been certified as a class action. The case gives the judges the opportunity to further reduce the class measures by demanding stricter criteria for the plaintiff to join, a goal for the business community.

The lead plaintiff, a California man named Sergio Ramirez and other consumers were incorrectly identified by TransUnion as possible security threats.

During the arguments, some courts indicated that there was insufficient evidence that all class members had suffered a "concrete injury" as required when such a lawsuit was filed. There were 8,1

85 class members in the disputes whose names matched names on the government list. At the trial, it was only established that TransUnion had publicly disclosed that information about 1,853 of them.

"I think you have a good argument for 1,853 … but I'm more concerned about 6,632 whose information was not in essence published," Conservative Brett Kavanaugh told the plaintiff's attorney, Samuel Issacharoff.

Judges may be able to return the case to lower courts for further disputes over how many plaintiffs can potentially recover damages.

Mr. Ramirez sued in federal court in 2012 after an incident last year at a Nissan car dealership. When the retailer conducted a credit check with TransUnion, the report noted that Ramirez's names seemed to partially match two names on a federal government list of people banned from doing business in the United States due to national security concerns. None of them were Mr. Ramirez.

Although his wife was able to buy a vehicle, Ramirez said he was embarrassed and shocked and ended up canceling an overseas holiday over concerns over the list. After requesting a copy of his credit file, TransUnion sent him a separate mail stating that his name was matched with two on the list.

The trial found that the mailing that mentioned the match incorrectly stated that such a report was not part of an actual credit report that creditors or employers would see when it was actually part of it.

TransUnion claimed that simply sending mail was not a concrete injury.

A 2017 jury awarded $ 60 million in damages. to the class as a whole, including $ 52 million in penalties. The San Francisco-based ninth U.S. district court overturned the judges' ruling in 2020 but reduced the damages to about $ 40 million.

The business community has long tried to limit class actions, which can lead to large payments to the plaintiff. and their lawyers. TransUnion is supported in the case by various business groups such as the U.S. chambers of commerce and companies including The Home Depot Inc., eBay Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. & # 39 ;s Google.

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