A federal jury today found against BMW Financial Services with a unanimous verdict for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the California Identity Theft Law. Seungtae Kim v. BMW Financial Services, NA, LLC, Case No. 2:14–cv–01752–BRO–SH, Central District of California. In its verdict form, the jury assessed damages of $250,000 for damages to creditworthiness and reputation under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as well as additional damages of $150,000 for emotional distress and mental anguish under the California Identity Theft Law. The jury also assessed a civil penalty of $30,000.00 for a willful violation of the California Identity Theft Law.
As alleged in the lawsuit, in 2013 plaintiff Seungtae Kim, a Korean acupuncture doctor in Los Angeles, discovered four identity theft accounts on his credit report. Through contacting the creditors and working with the police, he was able to clear up three of the accounts, but the fourth account, BMW Financial, insisted that the false information resulted from a “straw purchase,” where Mr. Kim had consented to let someone else use his identity to buy a car.
Following the verdict, Mr. Kim expressed great relief. “I felt like I was up against a brick wall,” commented Mr. Kim, “and had no other option than to file a lawsuit to clear my name and my reputation. Corporations should never be allowed to do this to someone.”
Plaintiff’s attorney Robert F. Brennan of La Crescenta commented, “Financial corporations like BMW Financial really have little concept of the enormous power that they enjoy with quick, easy computerized credit reporting. The power to credit report is the power to destroy, and I hope that BMW Financial, and other corporations, learn that they must, must take their credit reporting and identity theft responsibilities very seriously.”
SOURCE: Robert F. Brennan