ST. LOUIS — U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig of the Eastern District of Missouri has denied a plaintiff's motion for $23,300 in default judgment in a lawsuit seeking damages under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Faye Usher had sued Fidelity Information Corp. and Experian Information Solutions Inc. in 2017 claiming false credit information was shared between the two entities.
Usher specifically alleged that Fidelity, a "furnisher-subscriber," shared false information to credit reporting agency Experian and failed to review all pertinent information and retract information that was false.
While Experian had answered Usher's suit, Fidelity did not respond to the complaint. That led the court clerk to enter a default judgment against Fidelity on Dec. 22, 2017.
In her affidavit claiming she has suffered and will continue to suffer personal humiliation and emotional distress, Usher is seeking $1,000 in statutory damages, $5,000 in actual damages, $12,000 in punitive damages, and $5,300 in court costs and attorney's fees.
Fleissig held that when co-defendants are similarly situated, "inconsistent judgments may result if one defendant defends and prevails on the merits and the other suffers a default judgment."
Citing precedent in FF Heating & Cooling v. Lewis Mech. Servs., "To avoid such inconsistent results . . . the better practice is to stay the determination of damages against the defaulted defendant until plaintiff’s claims against the remaining defendants are resolved,” Fleissig's ruling states.
In the FF Heating case, the court declined to enter default judgment against one defendant in action for breach of contract where liability of similarly situated answering defendants was yet to be determined, the ruling states.
Fleissig wrote that the claims against Fidelity and Experian are "interconnected," with important operative facts underlying Usher's claims.
The ruling was entered Feb. 6.