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Date: 07-28-2013

Case Style: Julie Miller v. Equifax Information Services, L.L.C.

Case Number: 3:11-cv-01231-BR

Judge: Anna J. Brown

Court: United States District Court for the District of Oregon (Multnomah County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: Michael C. Baxter, Kachelle A. Baxter, Justin M. Baxter

Defendant's Attorney: Ian E. Smith, Jeffrey M. Edelson, Lewis P. Perling Phyllis B. Sumner

Description: Julie Miller sued Equifax Information Services, LLC on a Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681) violation theory claiming to have been injured and harmed as a result of Equifax's failure to "fix" major mistakes on her credit report. She claimed that she called Equifax eight times between 2009 and 2011 in an effort to get the company to correct inaccuracies, including erroneous accounts and collection attempts, including an incorrect social security number and date of birth. She further claimed that her reputation was damaged and credit rating was damaged as a direct result of Equifax willful violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

She discovered the problems with the information about her collected and stored by Equaifax when she was denied credit by a bank in early 2009. She informed Equifax and filled out multiple forms provided by Equifax in an unsuccessful effort to get the information correct.

She later found similar errors on reports from other credit agencies which corrected the errors.

The defenses asserted by Equifax are not available.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides:

"(a) Accuracy and fairness of credit reporting

The Congress makes the following findings:

(1) The banking system is dependent upon fair
and accurate credit reporting. Inaccurate credit
reports directly impair the efficiency of the
banking system, and unfair credit reporting
methods undermine the public confidence which
is essential to the continued functioning of the
banking system.

(2) An elaborate mechanism has been developed
for investigating and evaluating the credit
worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity,
character, and general reputation of consumers.

(3) Consumer reporting agencies have assumed
a vital role in assembling and evaluating consumer
credit and other information on consumers.

(4) There is a need to insure that consumer reporting
agencies exercise their grave responsibilities
with fairness, impartiality, and a respect
for the consumer’s right to privacy.

(b) Reasonable procedures

It is the purpose of this subchapter to require
that consumer reporting agencies adopt reasonable
procedures for meeting the needs of commerce
for consumer credit, personnel, insurance,
and other information in a manner which is fair
and equitable to the consumer, with regard to
the confidentiality, accuracy, relevancy, and
proper utilization of such information in accordance
with the requirements of this subchapter."


Generally, punitive damages are limited in amount by state and federal due process and other constitutional limits on the the taking of a defendants property to punish the defendant for its wrongful behavior. Willful and wanton conduct generally means a course of action showing an actual or deliberate intention to injure or, if not intentional, shows an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others.

________________________________________

Court notes for the month of July, 2013:

07/12/2013 61 Memorandum in Opposition to Motion in limine 59 . Filed by Julie Miller. (Baxter, Justin) (Entered: 07/12/2013)

07/12/2013 62 Objection(s) to Defendant's Deposition Designations and Counter Designations. Filed by Julie Miller. (Related document(s): Deposition Testimony Designation 57 .) (Baxter, Justin) (Entered: 07/12/2013)

07/12/2013 63 Counter Designation of Deposition Testimony . Filed by Equifax Information Services LLC. (Perling, Lewis) (Entered: 07/12/2013)

07/12/2013 64 Response in Opposition to Motion in limine 53 . Filed by Equifax Information Services LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A: Miller Deposition Excerpts, # 2 Exhibit B: Thomas v. Trans Union, # 3 Exhibit C: Anderson v. Equifax, # 4 Exhibit D: Mixon Deposition Excerpts) (Perling, Lewis) (Entered: 07/12/2013)

07/16/2013 65 Reply in Support to Motion in limine 53 . Filed by Julie Miller. (Baxter, Justin) (Entered: 07/16/2013)

07/16/2013 66 Declaration of Justin M. Baxter. Filed by Julie Miller. (Related document(s): Reply to Motion 65 .) (Baxter, Justin) (Entered: 07/16/2013)

07/17/2013 67 Amended Declaration of Justin M. Baxter. Filed by Julie Miller. (Related document(s): Declaration 66 .) (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1) (Baxter, Justin) (Entered: 07/17/2013)

07/18/2013 68 Reply in Further Support to Motion in limine 59 . Filed by Equifax Information Services LLC. (Perling, Lewis) (Entered: 07/18/2013)

07/19/2013 69 MINUTES of Proceedings: Pretrial Conference held. Order on rulings attached. Pretrial Conference CONTINUED to 7/22/2013 at 09:00 AM in Portland Courtroom 14A before Judge Anna J. Brown. Justin Baxter, Michael Baxter present as counsel for plaintiff(s). Jeff Edelson, Lewis Perling, Phyllis Sumner present as counsel for defendant(s).(Court Reporter Amanda LeGore.) (bb) (Entered: 07/19/2013)

07/22/2013 70 MINUTES of Proceedings: Pretrial Conference continued. Rulings placed on the record. Justin Baxter, Michael Baxter present as counsel for plaintiff(s). Jeff Edelson, Lewis Perling, Phyllis Sumner present as counsel for defendant(s). Court Reporter: Amanda LeGore. Judge Anna J. Brown presiding. (bb) (Entered: 07/23/2013)

07/23/2013 71 MINUTES of Proceedings: Jury Trial Day 1. Jury panel selected and sworn. Opening statements heard. Evidence adduced. Jury Trial recessed until 07/24/2013 at 8:30 am with counsel only; jurors to return at 9:00 am. Justin Baxter, Michael Baxter present as counsel for plaintiff(s). Jeff Edelson, Lewis Perling, Phyllis Sumner present as counsel for defendant(s). Court Reporter: Amanda LeGore. Judge Anna J. Brown presiding. (bb) (Entered: 07/24/2013)

07/24/2013 72 MINUTES of Proceedings: Jury Trial-Day 2. Evidence adduced. Plaintiff rested. Motion for Judgment as a matter of law denied. Jury Trial CONTINUED to 7/25/2013 at 08:30 AM with counsel only, jury panel to return at 9:00 AM. Justin Baxter, Michael Baxter present as counsel for plaintiff(s). Jeff Edelson, Lewis Perling, Phyllis Sumner present as counsel for defendant(s). Court Reporter: Amanda LeGore. Judge Anna J. Brown presiding. (bb) Modified on 7/26/2013 adding that Plaintiff rested (bb). (Entered: 07/25/2013)

07/25/2013 73 MINUTES of Proceedings: Jury Trial-Day 3. Evidence adduced. Defendant rested. Closing arguments heard. At 3:31 pm the jury panel retired to begin deliberations. No verdict reached. Jury Trial CONTINUED to 7/26/2013 at 09:00 AM. ORDER: 8 juror lunches to be provided by Bridge City Cafe. Justin Baxter, Michael Baxter present as counsel for plaintiff(s). Jeff Edelson, Lewis Perling, Phyllis Sumner present as counsel for defendant(s). Court Reporter: Amanda LeGore. Judge Anna J. Brown presiding. (bb) (Entered: 07/26/2013)

07/26/2013 74 OFFICIAL COURT TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS FILED Rule 104 and Pretrial Conference held on July 19, 2013 before Judge Anna J. Brown, Court Reporter Amanda M. LeGore, telephone number 503-326-8184. Transcript may be viewed at Court's public terminal or purchased from the Court Reporter/Transcriber before the deadline for Release of Transcript Restriction. Afterwards it may be obtained through PACER-See Policy at ord.uscourts.gov. Notice of Intent to Redact Transcript is due by 8/5/2013. Redaction Request due 8/19/2013. Redacted Transcript Deadline set for 8/29/2013. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 10/28/2013. (LeGore, Amanda) (Entered: 07/26/2013)

07/26/2013 75 OFFICIAL COURT TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS FILED Continuation of Pretrial Conference held on July 22, 2013 before Judge Anna J. Brown, Court Reporter Amanda M. LeGore, telephone number 503-326-8184. Transcript may be viewed at Court's public terminal or purchased from the Court Reporter/Transcriber before the deadline for Release of Transcript Restriction. Afterwards it may be obtained through PACER-See Policy at ord.uscourts.gov. Notice of Intent to Redact Transcript is due by 8/5/2013. Redaction Request due 8/19/2013. Redacted Transcript Deadline set for 8/29/2013. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 10/28/2013. (LeGore, Amanda) (Entered: 07/26/2013)

07/26/2013 76 OFFICIAL COURT TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS FILED Excerpt of the Cross-Examination of Julie Miller held on July 23, 2013 before Judge Anna J. Brown, Court Reporter Amanda M. LeGore, telephone number 503-326-8184. Transcript may be viewed at Court's public terminal or purchased from the Court Reporter/Transcriber before the deadline for Release of Transcript Restriction. Afterwards it may be obtained through PACER-See Policy at ord.uscourts.gov. Notice of Intent to Redact Transcript is due by 8/5/2013. Redaction Request due 8/19/2013. Redacted Transcript Deadline set for 8/29/2013. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 10/28/2013. (LeGore, Amanda) (Entered: 07/26/2013)

07/26/2013 77 OFFICIAL COURT TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS FILED Excerpt of the Testimony of Anne Fortney held on July 24, 2013 before Judge Anna J. Brown, Court Reporter Amanda M. LeGore, telephone number 503-326-8184. Transcript may be viewed at Court's public terminal or purchased from the Court Reporter/Transcriber before the deadline for Release of Transcript Restriction. Afterwards it may be obtained through PACER-See Policy at ord.uscourts.gov. Notice of Intent to Redact Transcript is due by 8/5/2013. Redaction Request due 8/19/2013. Redacted Transcript Deadline set for 8/29/2013. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 10/28/2013. (LeGore, Amanda) (Entered: 07/26/2013) 07/26/2013 78 MINUTES of Proceedings: Jury Trial-Day 4. Verdict returned and published. Jury panel polled and excused. For the reasons stated on the record, the parties are directed not to file any post-trial motions. Court directed the parties to explore settlement and file a Joint Status Report no later than 8/16/2013. ORDER: 8 juror lunches to be provided by The Good Earth Cafe. Justin Baxter, Michael Baxter present as counsel for plaintiff(s). Jeff Edelson, Lewis Perling, Phyllis Sumner present as counsel for defendant(s). Court Reporter: Amanda LeGore. Judge Anna J. Brown presiding. (bb) (Entered: 07/26/2013)

07/26/2013 79 Jury Verdict. (bb) (Entered: 07/26/2013)

07/26/2013 80 Jury Verdict Unredacted Version Filed Under Seal . (bb) (Entered: 07/26/2013)

07/26/2013 81 Court's Instructions to the Jury. (bb) (Entered: 07/26/2013)

Outcome: Plaintiff's verdict for $18.6 million including $180,000 in compensatory damages and $18.4 million in punitive damages.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:

Comments: Editor's Comments: Every case that goes to trial does so because one of the parties has not assessed the risks associated with the case correctly. For example, in this case Quifax and its attorneys clearly did not assess the risk of losing or the amount of damages that would be awarded in the event of loss.

Every case that goes to trial in the federal court system is subjected to a series of rigorous challenges including motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment. If a claim survives these challenges, the courts make the parties engage in an alternative dispute resolution process in which the plaintiff and her lawyers and the defendant and its lawyers present themselves at the courthouse and engage in a mandated alternative dispute resolution process, the object of which is to settle the case. Plaintiffs are always willing to settle if they are offered enough for their claims. Defendants may or may not be willing to offer much or anything to settle cases based upon their assessment of the risk of going to trial and have a jury decided the dispute. We do not know what was demanded by the Plaintiff or offered by the Defendant but the verdict was likely for much more than want was demanded or offered. Equifax and its lawyers certainly did not appreciate the risk associated with trying this case in this venue.

It is not know what the Plaintiff offered to accept or Equifax offered to pay to resolve this case but it certain that Equifax and its lawyers did not think that this case would result in this kind of verdict.

Equifax will attack the verdict with post verdict motions for a new trial. Federal court can grant new trials if the Plaintiff does not agree to a remittitur. It can do this over and over until a jury returns a verdict that make the judge happy. The loser, whether Plaintiff or Defendant or both, can then appeal and the Ninth Circuit, in this case, can affirm or reinstate the verdict that it concludes is the right one.

A punitive damage verdict for 100 times the compensatory damage award will probably not stand.

What will probably happen here is that they parties will settle this case for a confidential some for a lot less than the verdict.



 
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