Frequently Asked Questions
- What is this lawsuit about?
- Who are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax?
- What is a class action?
- Why is there a settlement?
- How do I know if I am part of the Class
- Are there exceptions to being included?
- What if I am not sure whether I am included in the
- What does the Settlement provide?
- How can I get a damage award from the Settlement?
- Will my credit report be updated?
- What am I giving up as part of the Settlement?
- How can I get benefits?
- When will I get my benefits?
- Do I have a lawyer in the case?
- How will the lawyers and Class Representatives be
- How do I tell the Court if I do not like the
- How do I opt out from participating in the
- When and where will the Court decide whether to
approve the Settlement?
- Do I have to come to the hearing?
- May I speak at the hearing?
- What happens if I did nothing at all?
- What does an appeal mean to the Settlement?
- How do I get more information about the
The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") and related state laws by incorrectly reporting debts discharged in bankruptcy on credit reports, conducting improper investigations of consumer disputes regarding such debts, and damaging consumers as a result. For example, a consumer may have had a $500 credit card debt that was put in collection, and the debt was then discharged in Chapter 7 no-asset bankruptcy proceedings. The lawsuit charges that the Defendants were erroneously reporting those kinds of debts as in collection or due and owing on their credit reports, when they should have been reported as included in bankruptcy.
The Defendants deny all of the Plaintiffs' claims and say that they did nothing wrong. Specifically, Defendants disagree with the allegations and say that they have many defenses, that they are not liable to Plaintiffs, and that Plaintiffs are not entitled to any benefits from this litigation.
Before any money is paid, the Court must approve the Settlement.
TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax are consumer credit reporting agencies that collect consumer credit information and provide credit reports or other credit-related information to credit grantors and others, such as prospective employers and insurance companies.
In a class action, one or more people called "Class Representatives" (in this case, Jose Hernandez, Kathryn Pike, Robert Randall, and Bertram Robison) sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All of these people are a "Class" or "Class members." One court resolves the issues for all Class members.
The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiffs or the Defendants. Instead, both sides agreed to settle this case to avoid the cost and risk of a trial. The settlement does not mean that any law was violated or that the Defendants did anything wrong. The Defendants deny all legal claims in this case. The Class Representatives and their lawyers think the Settlement is best for all Class members.
The Court decided that the Class includes all consumers who have received an order of discharge of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and who, between March 15, 2002 and May 11, 2009 (or, for California residents in the case of TransUnion, between May 12, 2001 and May 11, 2009), have had a credit report issued by a Defendant that contained debts, accounts, judgments or other obligations discharged in bankruptcy that were not reported as discharged in bankruptcy.
The Settlement does not include (a) anyone who opted out from the Class before the deadline; (b) consumers who previously released all of their claims against the Defendant; (c) Defendants and their officers, directors, and employees; (d) counsel for any of the settling parties in this case; or (e) all judges assigned to this case, along with their staff, spouses and any children living in their households.
If you are not sure whether you are included in the Class, or you have questions about the Settlement, you may email questions to BankruptcyDischargeSettlement@gardencitygroup.com, or write with questions to White, et al. v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 9517, Dublin OH 43017-4817.
The Settlement will establish a $45 million Settlement Fund that will:
- pay for damage award claims by consumers who certify either:
- that they believe that they may have had errors in their credit reports regarding debts discharged in bankruptcy (see below), or
- that they have been harmed by an error they believed appeared in their credit reports regarding debts discharged in bankruptcy (see below);
- pay class counsel's attorneys' fees and their expenses (see below);
- pay an incentive award to the named plaintiffs; and
- pay the costs of notice and administering the Settlement.
To apply for an award under Option 1 or Option 2, you must have submitted a complete Claim Form postmarked or submitted online no later than November 30, 2009. Additional information may have been required to be submitted before March 31, 2011 in order to validate your claim.
There were two Options you could have elected to get a damage award from the Settlement. Alternatively, you could have opted out and pursued your own claim against the Defendants.
Option 1 on the Claim Form was for a convenience award. This was for those Class members who certified that they believe that there have been one or more errors in their credit reports regarding debt discharged in bankruptcy but who were unable to meet the requirements for Option 2. The amount of this type of award will depend in part on the number of Class members who provided this certification. Convenience Awards are estimated to range between $15 and $35.
Option 2 on the Claim Form was for those Class members who were able not only to certify that they believe there may have been errors in their credit reports regarding debts discharged in bankruptcy, but who were also able to certify that they believe they have been damaged by such errors. Class members who made this certification must specify whether they believe they suffered this harm with respect to a denial of employment, a mortgage loan or housing rental, and/or a credit card, auto loan, other credit that they applied for, or payment of a discharged debt to obtain credit. They also must state which month and year they believed this happened. The Settlement Administrator will verify these claims. Accepted claims will be paid according to this schedule of estimated award amounts:
|A denial of employment you applied for||$150.00-$750.00|
|A mortgage loan or a housing rental you sought||$100.00-$500.00|
|A credit card, auto loan, or other credit applied for,
or payment of a discharged debt to obtain credit
Payment will be made only for the highest dollar category for which you qualify even if you qualify for two or three of them. Also, the exact amounts may be somewhat higher or lower than the projected amounts, depending on the number of class members who qualify for awards under this Settlement.
Plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that a credit report contained an "error" if an account or judgment which was discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy was reported with information indicating that such debt was due and owing.
Information in your credit report relating to debt discharged in bankruptcy should already have been updated. Earlier in this case, the Plaintiffs and Defendants reached a separate settlement agreement that was approved by the Court on August 19, 2008. As part of the Injunctive Relief Settlement, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax agreed to immediately update the credit files of Class members to reflect bankruptcy discharges, and adopted new procedures for automatic updating in the future. No money was paid, and no claims for money were given up by the Class members. In addition, Class Counsel and possibly additional counsel will, prior to the approval of this Settlement, be seeking approval of an award of fees and expenses for their efforts in connection with obtaining the injunctive relief settlement referenced above; in a separate, previously negotiated agreement, Defendants have agreed to pay up to six million dollars for the injunctive relief fees and expenses, subject to Court approval. The amount of injunctive relief fees and expenses approved will in no way reduce the size of the Settlement Fund.
Unless you opted out of the Settlement, you will be giving up all rights under both federal and state law to claims against Defendants that relate to the reporting of debt discharged in bankruptcy. This means, for example, that if you applied for credit or a mortgage loan and you were denied because of errors you believed appeared on your credit reports regarding debt discharged in bankruptcy, you will lose your right to pursue any related claims against Defendants. You can find more information regarding the rights you will be giving up in a document called the Settlement Agreement, which is available on this website. You can talk to the Settlement Administrator representing the Class listed below in Do I have a lawyer in the case? for free or you can, at your own expense, talk to your own lawyer if you have any questions about the released claims or what they mean.
You must have submitted a Claim Form to receive a Convenience Damage Award or Actual Damage Award postmarked or submitted online no later than November 30, 2009.
If you submitted a claim for one or more of the benefits provided by this Settlement, you will be notified about how and when you can obtain these benefits after the Court grants final approval of the Settlement and all appeals are resolved. If the Settlement is not delayed, you should get your benefits within 90 days. Updates will be available on this website.
The Court appointed the Law Offices of: Michael Caddell, Esq., Caddell & Chapman; Michael W. Sobol, Esq., Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein; Leonard A. Bennett, Esq., Consumer Litigation Associates, P.C.; Mitchell A. Toups, Esq., Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell, L.L.P.; Charles Delbaum and Stuart T. Rossman, National Consumer Law Center; and Lee A. Sherman, Esq., Callahan, McCune & Willis, APLC, as "Class Counsel" to represent you and other Class members. You may contact the Settlement Administrator by calling the toll-free number: 1 (866) 237-3432. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer in this case, you may hire one at your own expense.
Class Counsel asked the Court for approval of attorneys' fees of no more than 25% of the Settlement Fund and for reimbursement of their costs and expenses in connection with this Settlement providing for a Settlement Fund of $45 million. They also asked for incentive awards for each of the Class Representatives who helped the lawyers on behalf of the whole Class. The Court has made a decision regarding the amount of attorneys' fees, costs, expenses, and Class Representative payments. The fees, expenses, and awards that the Court orders, plus the costs to administer the Settlement, will come out of the Settlement Fund. Click here to view the Court documents related to the applications for attorneys' fees and the Court’s Orders.
The deadline to comment on or object to the Settlement was November 30, 2009; however, the deadline was extended for Settlement Class Members who were mailed a Supplemental Notice in February 2011. The postmark deadline for qualifying timely Convenience Award Claimants, Actual Damage Award Claimants, opt outs and objectors to respond was March 31, 2011.
The deadline to opt out of the Settlement was November 30, 2009. The deadline was extended for Settlement Class Members who were mailed a Supplemental Notice in February 2011. The postmark deadline for qualifying timely Convenience Award Claimants, Actual Damage Award Claimants, opt outs and objectors to respond was March 31, 2011.
The Court held a hearing on May 26, 2011 to consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, adequate, and should be granted approval. Class Counsel has asked the Court for approval of their request for attorneys' fees, costs, expenses, and incentive awards for Class Representatives. The Court entered an order for Final Approval on July 20, 2011.
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. However, you are welcome to attend the hearing at your own expense. If you sent in a written objection, you do not have to come to the Fairness Hearing to talk about it. As long as you filed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend the Fairness Hearing, but it is not necessary.
To speak at the Fairness Hearing, you must have sent a "Notice of Intent to Appear" postmarked no later than November 30, 2009.
If you did nothing before the deadlines described in this website, you will not receive any payment in this settlement, and you will lose the right to sue any of the Defendants or other released parties based on how debt discharged in bankruptcy is reported, or based on any matter alleged in the complaints on file with the Court. You still should have already had your credit file updated as a result of an earlier settlement requiring Defendants to fix consumers' credit files.
When an appeal is filed it means that a request is made to have a higher court review the decisions of the lower court. In this case, a Notice of Appeal was filed on August 12, 2011, requesting that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit review the Final Approval Order and the orders regarding attorneys’ fees and costs for monetary and injunctive relief. At this time we do not know how long the appeal process will take. The Court of Appeals has set a date of Monday, March 4, 2013, for a hearing.
This website summarizes the Settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement, available on this website. You also may email BankruptcyDischargeSettlement@gardencitygroup.com, call 1 (866) 237-3432, or write to White, et al. v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 9517, Dublin OH 43017-4817.
DO NOT CALL THE COURT. DO NOT CALL OR SEND CORRESPONDENCE TO JUDGE CARTER OR HIS STAFF.