Consumer Credit and Debt Collection Practices – Liability For Class Action Lawsuits
A Class Action Lawsuit is a lawsuit in which a group of people, generally consisting of small business owners and individuals, challenge the actions or inactions of another person or organization that violates some Federal or state laws. Such lawsuits seek damages for various injuries such as mental anguish, physical injuries, loss of wages and past and future medical care and loss of enjoyment of life.
Class action lawsuits are based on negligence, strict liability and commercial ethics. Class action lawsuits are also known as mass torts. The defendant in such lawsuits is usually a corporation or an individual that is guilty of some act that causes injury to the plaintiff.
Sterling Class Action Lawsuit
On Dec. 4, 2021, a U.S. Federal Court judge in Manhattan issued a final judgment in favor of a Sterling, New York resident who brought a consumer report class action lawsuit against her former employer, S.C. Johnson & Co. (owners of Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals).
Ms. R.A.B. claimed that while she was working as a dental assistant in their dental department, she became the victim of employer negligence which resulted in her losing her job and experiencing further financial hardships.
At the time of filing this lawsuit, Ms. R.A.B. had a history of negative experiences with S.C. Johnson & Co. and knew that without a valid complaint and an adequate background check, the company would not be able to defend against the claims made in the Consumer’s Background Check Class Action Lawsuit.
The defendants filed an answer to the complaint, denying all liability and pointing out that they had conducted a thorough investigation of the plaintiff’s claims in the Consumer’s Background Check Class Action Lawsuit.
Although the answer noted that they had conducted a thorough investigation, it did not resolve the liability issue as the defendants had not conducted a thorough investigation of Ms. R.A.B. ‘s claims.
Also, at the time, the details regarding the background report were unclear as the defendants had failed to produce a background report in response to the complaint. The fact that the defendants failed to obtain a background check demonstrates that they were well aware of the Consumer’s Background Check Class Action Lawsuit at the time they filed their answer denying liability and pointing out that they had conducted a thorough investigation of the plaintiff.
Sterling’s class action lawsuit against S.C. Johnson & Co. was eventually resolved through arbitration.
An arbitrator issued a final judgment in favor of Ms. R.A.B. However, the damages awarded to her were later reduced by the court on appeal, ruling that the companies had failed to properly conduct their corporate criminal background checks.
The court found that the defendants failed to conduct an adequate background check because they relied on the “unknowing” or “inconclusive” information provided by a S.C. employee that advised them of Ms. R.A.B. ‘s claims.
It is quite obvious from the above example that the Sterling Class Action Lawsuit and its subsequent resolution are not limited to natural persons who were the subject of a consumer report sold by any platform of the defendant company.
As per the decisions in US District Court, one who is not a natural person, but is also an artificial entity or corporation cannot avoid liability in any case of a consumer reporting. Such artificial entities can also be sued for making false claims of the facts in the consumer reports.