California Court Orders Wells Fargo to Pay Over $1 Million for False Credit Reporting

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On August 30, 2007, the Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County, California ordered Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to pay fees and costs of $283,594.45 in addition to a damages award of $765,000 to Reed and Mary Ann Fisher of Oceanside. The Fisher's allegations against Wells Fargo arose out of a two-year uncorrected pattern of false and inaccurate credit reporting which damaged the Fisher's credit scores and which also resulted in credit denials. The Fishers were represented by Robert F. Brennan of Brennan, Wiener & Associates in La Crescenta, widely regarded as the leading consumer protection and credit damage law firm in Southern California. Reed & Mary Ann Fisher v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Case No. RCV 074 822, San Bernardino Superior Court, Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse.

In March, following a seven-day jury trial, a civil jury in Rancho Cucamonga ordered Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to pay consumers Reed and Mary Ann Fisher $765,000.00 in actual and punitive damages in a lawsuit arising out of alleged false credit reporting by Wells Fargo over a two-year period. On August 30, 2007, Judge Martin Hildreth assessed attorney's fees and costs against Wells Fargo in the sum of $283,594.45, bringing the total judgment to $1,045,594.45. Reed & Mary Ann Fisher v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Case No. RCV 074 822, San Bernardino Superior Court, Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse.

Plaintiffs' counsel Robert F. Brennan indicated that this was one of the largest verdicts of its kind in California history.

"I know that there have been a handful of judgments over $1 million in California for false credit reporting, but probably not enough. The credit reporting industry needs to get the message that false credit reporting can ruin a consumer's life and that extra precautions need to be taken to prevent false credit reporting, and to promptly fix it when it does occur."

In this case, Wells Fargo had two years of false credit reporting which effectively ruined the plaintiffs' lives. In the spring of 2001, San Clemente residents Reed and MaryAnne Fisher had their home red-tagged because of land instability. They thought the biggest nightmare would be dealing with their red-tagged home, but this proved to be the lesser of their nightmares over the next two years.

The Fishers contacted Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, their mortgage servicer, and obtained a forbearance agreement so they did not have to make mortgage payments while their home was red-tagged. Ultimately, Wells Fargo transferred the mortgage to Freddie Mac, the mortgage holder, and Freddie Mac charged off the loan with a zero balance and no negative credit marks. The Fishers had always been current on their home mortgage payments, and had otherwise spotless credit.

Wells Fargo, however, continued to report false negative credit information to the credit bureaus that the Fishers were between 30 and 90 days late on their mortgage payments. Wells Fargo also began foreclosure proceedings on the Fisher's home when it no longer even had the right to do so, because it had transferred the loan to Freddie Mac.

The negative credit entries from Wells Fargo made it extremely tough for the Fishers to get another living situation and to pick up the pieces of their lives, having been denied their good names and credit by Wells Fargo's false credit reporting. This went on for two years. Wells Fargo would, on the one hand, send a letter to the Fishers stating that the credit information was being cleaned up, then on the other hand continue to report the negative credit information to the credit bureaus. Wells' negative credit information damaged the Fisher's credit scores.

The Fishers retained prominent Southern California consumer protection and credit damage attorney Robert F. Brennan of La Crescenta, to file a lawsuit to finally get Wells Fargo to stop the credit reporting. But with two years of negative credit reporting ruining their lives, the Fishers proceeded to trial to obtain their damages as well as a permanent court judgment showing that Wells Fargo had acted improperly.

On Tuesday, March 6, 2007 at 11:30 a.m., a Rancho Cucamonga jury gave them a judgment against Wells Fargo for $765,000 in actual and punitive damages. The court then added the sum of $283,594.45 in fees and costs in August. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows consumers to recover their attorney's fees and costs in the event of a favorable verdict.

"This is yet another example of how the big players in the credit reporting industry really ignore and neglect the consumers they're supposed to protect," says Brennan. "The Fishers tried for two years to clean up their credit by themselves, only to have the door slammed in their faces repeatedly. Only when they hired an attorney and filed a lawsuit did things start to improve. But by then a lot of damage had been done."

Mr. Brennan also criticized Wells Fargo for acting as if the credit information belonged to Wells Fargo and not to the Fishers. "So often in these cases, you see an attitude that big banks like Wells Fargo believe that a consumer's credit information belongs to the bank. It does not. If nothing else, I hope Wells Fargo learns from this verdict that a consumer's credit information belongs to the consumer, and a bank has a sacred trust to protect it from wrongful damage."

Contact Information: Robert F. Brennan, Brennan, Wiener & Associates, 3150 Montrose Ave., La Crescenta, Ca. 91214, (818) 249-5291. Mr. Brennan and his firm are the leading consumer protection and credit damage attorneys in Southern California. Mr. Brennan has been selected as a "Southern California Super Lawyer" for two years running, for both 2006 and 2007.

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