Popular culture has seen its share of humans posthumously becoming re-animated and attempting to perform various activities. We have seen the dead vote in elections, stagger around in search of human flesh, and participate in hilarious party weekends. Just when we thought we had seen it all, Kimberly Haman proves that the dead can file lawsuits. That’s right, Ms. Haman has filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri against Equifax and the Heartland Bank for, among other things, violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) by wrongfully killing her. Apparently, Ms. Haman went to Heartland Bank in order to be added to her parents’ joint bank account. In connection therewith, the bank required Ms. Haman to submit to a credit inquiry. Much to Ms. Haman’s dismay, the consequences of this seemingly innocent inquiry into her creditworthiness would be deadly. That is, Ms. Haman alleges that in the process of performing the credit inquiry, the bank informed Equifax that Ms. Haman was deceased, and this somehow became part of Ms. Haman’s credit report. According to Ms. Haman, she is, in fact, not deceased.
As you might imagine, lenders are less confident that an individual will be able to repay his or debts if that individual is deceased. According to Ms. Haman, this mistake caused her to be denied credit cards and mortgage refinancing, among other financial woes. The mistake was not remedied by the defendants despite repeated assurances that the error would be corrected.
This is an interesting case. All we have at this point is the complaint, so the factual allegations have not been truly tested. Those of us who have applied for any form of financing can sympathize with Ms. Haman. At least one jury sympathized with an Oregon woman who alleged that Equifax ruined her credit score, awarding her over $18 million. On the other side of the coin, we can also sympathize with the employee(s) of the defendant(s) who may have made an innocent clerical mistake that resulted in litigation. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle as it often is. It will be interesting to see how this case plays out.
(Hat tip: Courtside).