Eleventh Circuit Examines FCRA Willfulness Standard

In an unpublished decision in the case of Shaun J. Younger v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the jury’s finding that Experian willfully violated the FCRA by failing to reinvestigate the Plaintiff’s dispute. Since punitive damages are only available for willful violations, the jury’s award of punitive damages was eliminated.

Plaintiff filed suit against Experian alleging that it negligently and willfully violated 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a)(1)(A) when it failed to reinvestigate an item on his credit report. The item at issue was a debt associated with a small claims case which was resolved by a dismissal with prejudice. Plaintiff, through the assistance of counsel, obtained a copy of his credit report and discovered that the debt was still being reported by Experian. After making this discovery, Plaintiff and his lawyer drafted a letter to Experian attaching a copy of the dismissal. They requested that Experian reinvestigate the debt listing and remove it. The 11th Circuit addressed the contents of the letter in great detail its opinion. The letter identified the Plaintiff, the debt at issue, and enclosed a copy of the dismissal with prejudice. The letter was sent from the lawyer’s office but had Plaintiff’s return address. An identical letter was apparently sent to multiple credit reporting agencies. FULL ARTICLE

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