Wheelahan v. Trans Union LLC, No. 13-1613 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Beginning in 1998, consumer class actions were filed against Trans Union alleging violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681, by selling consumer information to target marketers and credit and insurance companies. The court approved a settlement. Trans Union agreed to give all class members “basic” credit monitoring services. Class members could also either claim cash from a $75 million fund or claim “enhanced” in-kind relief consisting of additional financial services. Trans Union was to provide $35 million worth of enhanced relief. The class was estimated at 190 million people. The Act authorizes damages of between $100 and $1000 per consumer for willful violations, so Trans Union faced theoretically possible liability of $190 billion. To persuade the court to approve the settlement, the parties agreed to an unusual provision that preserved substantive claims after settlement. Instead of releasing their claims, class members who did not get cash or enhanced in-kind relief retained the right to bring individual claims. Trans Union also partially waived the limitations period. The settlement authorized reimbursements from the fund to Trans Union itself “equal to any amounts paid to satisfy settlements or judgments arising from Post-Settlement Claims,” not including defense costs. There have been more PSCs than expected, depleting the fund. In a second appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the orders authorizing disbursement of the remainder of the fund.