I recently finished up some work on a case where the plaintiff’s credit damage expert witness assigned a dollar for dollar award for a credit declination. So, in this particular example the Plaintiff (a consumer) was denied an auto loan, twice, allegedly because of an error on her credit report. The auto loan was for $21,500. Her damage expert suggested that she was entitled to the full amount of the denied loan twice over because she was denied two times. At this point the credit damage assessment was $43,000, but it didn’t stop there. The damage expert also included the Plaintiff’s tax liability on the $43,000 damage amount.
At this point the damage assessment was up to $53,750. Now, keep in mind, this wasn’t money that was stolen or otherwise taken away from the Plaintiff. This was one auto loan, for which she was denied. This assessment suggests that consumers are entitled to free money with no obligation to pay back their lenders, plus their tax liability. I had only seen this kind of very aggressive credit damage assessment once in the past, and it involved a Plaintiff who couldn’t qualify for an apartment because of something on her credit reports. Her credit damage expert suggested that she was entitled to the entire amount of her lease obligation, which was about $13,000 for one year. And, because she was denied multiple times for the apartment she was somehow entitled to a multiple of that amount.
The issue when quantifying credit damages is that there is no single recognized metric for doing so. There is no “miles per hour”, “feet per second” or “rotations per minute” type of measurement formula. Each credit damage expert witness does it differently. Some of them, as we now know, choose to award the Plaintiff 100% of their credit denials as economic damages. Some of them take a more conservative and defensible approach by assigning a multiplier to the amount denied, maybe 10-15%. And some credit expert witnesses avoid the damage assessment altogether and suggest throwing it to the jury. It’s never a boring day as a credit expert witness.