(CN) – A cancer survivor whose identity was stolen by a hospital worker can sue Chase Bank and a credit service company for reporting false information to credit-rating agencies, the 9th Circuit ruled Tuesday.
“This case lends credence to the old adage that bad things come in threes,” Judge Margaret McKeown wrote for the three-judge panel in San Francisco.
“Eric Drew is a cancer survivor, who required experimental leukemia treatment,” the ruling states. “During his treatment, Drew’s identity was stolen by a hospital worker. Finally, when Drew attempted to remedy the identity theft, the banks and credit rating agencies were allegedly uncooperative, and continued to report the fraudulently opened accounts, and in the case of one bank, the thief address was tagged as Drew’s.”
Drew’s ordeal prompted him to sue Chase Bank and FIA Card Services, among others, in 2006 for reporting false items to the credit-rating agencies.
He claimed Chase initially ignored a notice from TransUnion to block reports from Drew’s accounts, which were presumed to be fraudulent.
Drew said the bank continued to report the account as lost or stolen, forcing him to complain to the credit-rating agencies a second time. Chase eventually deleted the account in February 2005, but sent letters to the identity thief’s Seattle address with the account number and re-reported the thief’s address as Drew’s, according to the lawsuit.
Similarly, FIA kept reporting the fraudulent account and calling Drew to collect the purported debt while he was hospitalized from July 2004 to January 2005, Drew claimed.
He accused the bank and FIA of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act and California law.
A federal judge granted the bank’s motion to dismiss in 2010, and tossed Drew’s claims against FIA as time-barred.
The 9th Circuit reversed, saying there was enough meat in the lawsuit to survive summary judgment.
“We conclude that TransUnion’s notification triggered Chase’s duties under the FCRA, that material issues of fact remain as to whether Chase violated those duties, and that Drew’s claim of emotional damages is cognizable under the FCRA,” McKeown wrote.
She also revived the claims against FIA, saying Drew “could not have discovered the violations” before June 3, 2004, when the two-year statute of limitations started running.
Though the 9th Circuit revived most of Drew’s claims, it barred him from amending his complaint to reinstate a state-law claim.