Denise Miller v. Trident Asset Mgmt., LLC., et al.; No. 1:18-cv-02538-ADC (Dec. 4, 2019) (Order Granting Defendant’s Motion for Sanctions)
In a scathing opinion, the District of Maryland recently awarded attorneys’ fees and costs to Defendant Trident Asset Management for having to defend what it characterized as “Plaintiff’s fraud upon this Court.” Denise Miller v. Trident Asset Mgmt., LLC., et al.; No. ADC-18-2538, Dkt. 168 at *3. In Miller, a consumer alleged a Verizon account was opened without her authorization or knowledge. Id. at *1. The Verizon account ultimately was charged off, with the outstanding $190 balance sent to Trident for collection, who thereafter began reporting the account on Plaintiff’s credit files. Id. Plaintiff disputed the reporting with the national consumer reporting agencies, repeatedly claiming the account was the product of fraud. Id.
In its Order, the Court vehemently rebuked Plaintiff’s actions, her paralegal’s actions, and her attorney’s actions. Id. at *3. “It would also be imprudent to ignore the role of counsel in this case, who even after being faced with his client’s admission of the debt, the false reporting of identity theft, and her lack of knowledge of whether the reporting was accurate, continued to press the litigation.” Id. at *4. Equally as concerning was the court’s emphasis on the behavior of Miller’s paralegal, Thomas Alston, whom also happens to be Ms. Miller’s landlord. Id. at *3. “‘[T]he Alston family is engaged in, and profiting from, an enterprise of [FCRA] litigation.’” Id. at *4 (quoting Alston v. Branch Banking & Trust Co., 1:15-cv-3100-GLH, 2016 WL 4521651, at *1 n.1 (D. Md. Aug. 26, 2016) (internal citation omitted).
The Miller decision serves as an important reminder ─ the Fair Credit Reporting Act, while an important vehicle to correct actual errors in consumers’ credit reports, is not to be used as a mechanism for greed by bringing frivolous, fraudulent lawsuits.