Expert Article Library

by Georg Finder

Damages to credit-worthiness due to a third party are now a measurable and compensable form of "special" injury. This financial damage can be quantified with the Credit Damage Measurement (CDM) Report developed by an expert witness on credit damage prepared by an Independent Credit Evaluator (ICE). This expertise is different from that of an economist, banker, lender/broker, or accountant. "All of us have had clients who said their credit is ruined," says litigator Thomas George Key who has used this service, "With an expert who has a method of liquidating the damages, it is no longer speculative."

Damages to creditworthiness alone can often reach six figures on what may otherwise be a small claim. Credit damage has proven collectable in several cases even where credit was the only damage. Credit damage measurement does NOT require that the client have perfect credit prior to the damage. All that is required is for there to be a measurable loss of capacity, or increased out of pocket costs, or loss of expectancy. In many cases, two of the types of damages may be compensated.

Credit damage compensation can yield some significant benefits:

  • 2006 - Reputation Damage (Plaintiff Service) due to Defendants failure to file Satisfaction of Judgment- San Bernardino County (CA) Superior Court - Appeal in Action Court found in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of $172,000.00 regarding increased out-of-pocket damages.

  • 2005 – Fraud / Identity Theft - (Plaintiff service) – Orange County Superior Court loss of assets and increased out of pocket costs of $42,000 + $70,000 in damages.

  • 2004 - Fraud - Debt Collection - (Plaintiff service) action resulted in an $870,000 verdict in favor of Plaintiff in Orange County Superior Court that started with a $4,000 disputed bill.

  • 2004 – Credit Report Remarks - (Defense service) credit damage claim reduced to zero in San Francisco Superior Court, based on the credit damage measurement report that established that the basis of credit denial and claimed damage was self inflicted by the plaintiff.

  • 2003 - Privacy Violation - (Plaintiff service) case resulting in a $930,000 ruling in favor of the plaintiff against Home Depot, shows the growing importance of credit reputation in our daily lives. The ruling was upheld in 2005 published Court of Appeals decision.

  • 2002 - Breach of Contract – (Defense service) a $200,000 credit damage claim against a realtor in a breach of contract case, was successfully defended in Orange County Superior Court, reducing the award to $22,000.

  • 2001 - Credit Report Misreporting – (Plaintiff service) real estate investor received $142,000.00 settlement for misreporting of a 90 day late mortgage payment, plus correction of the credit report.

  • 2001 - Fraud / identity theft (Plaintiff), Orange County Superior Court ruled in favor of Plaintiff: $40,000 settlement offer increased to $170,000 bench ruling.
  • The first expert witness testimony in 1995 caused a $33,000.00 award instead of a $6500.00 settlement due to real estate fraud based on the testimony of the expert witness, an Independent Credit Evaluator(ICE). Credit damage was recognized by the courts as early as 1912 in Missouri in Bell v May Co.

    There is a powerful effect to having an established credit damage expert provide a damage measurement report for court or arbitration. The compensation for damages is often more fair to all parties because the damage claim is based on a measurement, not on speculation or a guess. A properly crafter credit damage measurement report is useful in guiding a judge or a jury in arriving at a ‘fair’ compensation dollar value.

    Improved awareness has led to increased inclusion of credit damage as a compensable damage in a variety of cases. Victims of credit damage can specify this measured damage under general damages or a special damages for a fairer compensation demand value for fraud cases, creditor negligence cases, Fair Debt Collection Practices violations cases, breach of contract or bad faith cases, wrongful dismissal cases, major personal injury/medical malpractice, divorcing couples, and other causes of civil action.

    Credit damage measurement is a unique area of expertise, requiring a specialist. Economists are not trained for this, neither is a Certified Public Accountant, bankers rarely are qualified – but loan underwriters often are suitable for only one aspect of the many aspects of credit damage.

    Overlooking credit damage can be a missed opportunity for lawyers, who in a few minutes can understand the theory and its' practical application.

    According to attorney Key, "Credit damages have been mentioned in appellate cases and awards given over speculative objections. Loss of creditworthiness can be quantified to a number. As attorneys, we have an obligation to present these damages."