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Oregon woman wins $18.6M verdict over errors in credit report

By Yukio Strachan     Jul 31, 2013 in Business
Portland - A jury awarded $18.6 million to an Oregon woman who sued one of the nation's largest credit reporting bureaus over errors on her credit report.
In particular, the Oregon Federal District Court jury said the Atlanta-based Equifax must pay Julie Miller $18.4 million in punitive damages and $180,000 in compensatory damages, for “willfully” failing to comply with requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, The Oregonian reported.
It is the largest award believed ever awarded to a consumer against Equifax.
"I'm not aware of a larger one," said Justin Baxter, one of Miller’s attorneys.
Before Miller was the plaintiff in Miller vs Equifax, Miller was a concerned consumer wondering why she was denied credit from a bank based on her Equifax credit report in 2009.
On January 21,2010, Equifax sent Miller a copy of her January 18, 2010 Equifax credit
report and she immediately found the problem.
"The report contained false identification information, an incorrect Social Security
number, a false birthday and false derogatory collection accounts attributed to her," the complaint said.
Between January 2010 and September 2011, on nine separate occasions, Miller disputed the incorrect information in Equifax's January 18, 2010, credit report. In return, Equifax continued to repeatedly request additional identifying information, and on each occasion, Miller provided the requested information, with no results.
Frustrated, Miller filed a federal suit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act in Oct0ber 2011.
"There was damage to her reputation, a breach of her privacy and the lost opportunity to seek credit," said Justin Baxter, a Portland attorney who worked on the case with his father and law partner, Michael Baxter. "She has a brother who is disabled and who can't get credit on his own, and she wasn't able to help him."
Equifax’s Senior Director of Public Relations Meredith Griffanti issued a statement saying, “We are very disappointed in the jury verdict.”
“We are currently studying our next steps, which include asking the judge to review the verdict as well as filing an appeal,” spokesman Timothy Klein told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.
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