Alert March 24, 2009

Fourth Circuit Affirms Damages Award Under FCRA; Reverses Award of Attorney’s Fees

The Fourth Circuit affirmed an award of actual damages under the Fair Credit Reporting Act while reversing the district court’s award of attorney’s fees. Plaintiff contended that the defendant had violated FCRA by repeatedly placing incorrect information on her credit reports, despite her attempts to correct that information. The jury awarded plaintiff $200,000 in actual damages, and the court awarded statutory attorney’s fees in excess of $260,000. The Fourth Circuit concluded that the jury’s damages award was justified by evidence showing that as a result of the incorrect reports, plaintiff had been denied loans or offered loans on less advantageous terms than she would have otherwise received, that she had suffered severe emotional distress, and that she had lost income due to time missed from work attempting to correct the information. The Court reversed the attorney’s fee award, however, concluding that plaintiff had failed to meet her burden of showing that the hourly rate charged by her attorneys was reasonable in light of the market rate for such work. The case was remanded for the district court to recalculate the fee award after taking additional evidence. Click here for Robinson v. Equifax Information Services, LLC, No. 07-2094 (4th Cir. Mar. 16, 2009).