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Attorney Use of Credit Reports of Opponent Violates Fair Credit Reporting Act
Description Attorney representing patients in suit against a dentist obtained credit reports on dentist and his daughters. Appeals court upheld trial court verdict that such use was not business need allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and upheld damage award.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Fair Credit Reporting Act, Business Need
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts McKinnon represented the patients of Bakker (a dentist), who were suing Bakker. McKinnon obtained credit reports on Bakker and his two daughters as background work for the litigation, supposedly to make sure he was not judgment proof and had not been transferring assets to his daughters. Bakker and his daughters sued McKinnon for violating the FCRA, for obtaining credit reports for purposes not allowed under the Act. District court held for plaintiffs, awarding each $500 compensatory damages and $5,000 punitive damages. McKinnon appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The credit reports were "consumer reports" within the meaning of the FCRA. McKinnon’s use of the reports was not a legitimate "business need" under the Act, which specifies such needs to be credit transactions, employment purposes, insurance, government licenses, or other legitimate business needs.
Citation Bakker v. McKinnon, — F.3d — (1998 WL 514652, 8th Cir.)
152 F. 3d 1007 (8th Cir., 1998)

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