Suzanne Sloane (“Suzanne”) and her husband John T. Sloane filed suit against Equifax Information Services, LLC, Trans Union, LLC, Experian Information Solutions, Inc. and CitiFinancial, Inc. after she was the victim of identity theft and the credit reporting agencies failed to correct errors in her credit report. Suzanne settled with all defendants except Equifax. Following a trial, a jury returned a verdict against Equifax and awarded Suzanne $106,000 for economic loss and $245,000 for mental anguish, humiliation and emotional distress. The trial court also awarded her $181,083 for attorney’s fees. Equifax appealed.
When Suzanne discovered that she was the victim of identity theft, she notified the credit reporting agencies. For 21 months, Suzanne tried to get Equifax to correct the errors in her credit report, which it failed to do. During that time, Suzanne was repeatedly turned down for credit, or offered extremely poor terms because of her low credit score. She also testified that she suffered emotional distress, physical distress, and a breakdown of her marriage because of the credit problems.
The jury found that Suzanne proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Equifax violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C.A. §1681 et seq., by negligently failing to follow reasonable procedures designed to assure maximum accuracy on her consumer credit report, by negligently failing to conduct a reasonable investigation, by negligently failing to remove false information from her credit report, and by negligently reinserting false information into her credit report.