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TransUnion Reaches $9 Million Deal in Terrorist Watch List Suit

July 20, 2022, 3:57 PM

TransUnion is now poised to pay $9 million—instead of $40 million—to resolve a class action over its failure to take reasonable steps to ensure people weren’t falsely identified as potential terrorists on their credit reports.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted preliminary approval of the proposed settlement on Tuesday.

The original $40 million recovery came undone after the US Supreme Court said that the majority of the roughly 8,000 class members hadn’t suffered any concrete harm and consequently lacked Article III standing.

The credit agency incorrectly flagged people as potential matches, based on their names alone, to individuals listed as national security threats by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, but the reports were shared with third parties in only about a quarter of known instances.

To conform to the high court’s ruling, the proposed agreement limits the settlement class to “those individuals whom Trans Union either concedes had OFAC data provided about them to a third-party or those who submit a claim form and demonstrate that they had OFAC data provided to a third-party.”

TransUnion conceded that it sent OFAC data to around 1,800 people, according to the motion for approval of the deal.

If approved, class counsel estimates that each class member would receive “in excess of $2,000 each.”

Even if “the claims rate among Non-Stipulation Subgroup members reaches 10%, pro rata payments would be approximately $1,750 each,” the motion for preliminary approval said.

That’s roughly $2,000 less than each class member would have received had the Supreme Court not reversed on appeal, depending on the number of additional would-be settlement class members who submit claims.

Although the settlement class is much smaller, the release for those covered by the agreement is broader, insofar as it includes state law claims for which the original class wasn’t certified.

The $9 million settlement fund is a far cry from the original $60 million awarded by a jury in 2017.

The original judgment was reduced by $20 million after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit slashed the punitive damages component of the award.

The preliminarily approved settlement agreement contemplates that $4.5 million will be allocated for attorneys’ fees.

The class is represented by Anderson, Ogilvie & Brewer LLP and Francis Mailman Soumilas PC.

TransUnion LLC is represented by Sherman, Silverstein, Kohl, Rose & Podolsky PA; Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP; and O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

The case is Ramirez v. Trans Union LLC, N.D. Cal., No. 3:12-cv-00632, 7/19/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Holly Barker in Washington at hbarker@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com