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Statutory Damages Aren’t Excessive, Court Rules

(CN) - The 11th Circuit vacated a finding that the statutory damages provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act is unconstitutionally vague and excessive.

"We conclude that the district court erred in considering the merits of the as-applied excessiveness challenge before it was ripe and also in holding that the statute is unconstitutionally vague and excessive on its face," Judge Kravitch wrote for the three-judge panel.

The underlying cases involve separate class actions against Mexican Specialty Foods and Rave Motion Pictures Birmingham LLC, alleging violations of a 2003 amendment called the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA).

The lawsuits accused the defendants of printing more than the last five numbers of consumers' credit or debit cards on receipts.

The defendants sought summary judgment, arguing that the statutory-damages provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act was unconstitutional.

The provision allows victims of "willful violations" to receive between $100 and $1,000 in statutory damages.

The district court struck down the provision as unconstitutionally punitive.

However, the appeals court in Atlanta said the Act "clearly defines what conduct is prohibited and the potential range of fine that accompanies noncompliance."

It vacated and remanded for further proceedings.

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