St. Louis Record

Friday, December 6, 2019

Court: Expert witness can't testify about emotional distress to woman suing Equifax, debt collector in identity theft case

Federal Court

By Marian Johns | Oct 8, 2019

Court

ST. LOUIS – A federal judge has ruled that two expert witnesses in the case of a woman suing Equifax, Bay Area Credit Service and others relating to her identity theft and alleged illegal debt collection cannot give their opinions regarding any emotional distress she may have suffered or hedonic damages. 

According to the Sept. 18 U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division filing, defendant Bay Area Credit Service LLC petitioned the court to exclude the testimony of two of plaintiff Amber Cramer's expert witnesses – Dr. Stan Smith and Evan Hendricks.  

Among Cramer's allegations are violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Cramer claims she was the victim of identity theft and alleges that Bay Area kept contacting her on her cellphone regarding collection of unpaid medical bills despite being advised she had her identity stolen. 

"The motion is granted to the extent that Mr. Hendricks will not be permitted to: (1) give any testimony which states a legal analysis or conclusion of law, including opinions on whether defendant Bay Area Credit Service LLC’s conduct failed to conform to a particular legal standard; (2) render any opinions regarding plaintiff’s alleged emotional distress; or (3) provide testimony regarding damages, including those arising from plaintiff’s alleged emotional distress or the economic effects of an inaccurate credit report," Judge Charles Shaw wrote in the decision. 

The ruling states that Bay Area Credit Service sought to exclude Smith's testimony regarding the loss of enjoyment of life because "no factual basis supports the existence of these damages," and Shaw wrote that the recovery of hedonic damages was not appropriate. 

"It is further ordered that defendant Bay Area Credit Service LLC’s motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Stan Smith is granted in part and denied in part," Shaw wrote. "The motion is granted to the extent that Dr. Smith will not be permitted to give any testimony regarding loss of enjoyment of life damages, also known as hedonic damages."

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