Over the past several years, hundreds of businesses have faced millions, and in some cases billions, of dollars in potential liability in consumer class actions premised on the information printed on their credit and debit card receipts. The claims in these cases were brought under the amendments to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that are collectively known as the Federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA).
The massive scope of the potential damages in these cases prompted one court to comment that “FACTA is, on its face and in application to these defendants, a bomb that has already exploded or is sure so [sic] to explode that it needs defusing.” Grimes v. Rave Motion Pictures Birmingham, LLC, 552 F.Supp.2d 1302, 1309 (N.D. Ala. 2008).
This article examines several of the most notable decisions in the FACTA litigation, subsequent congressional action and how it affected the litigation, some of the innovative settlements that provided relief to the putative class members without bankrupting the retailers, and a few of the challenges in securing court approval of those settlements. The settlements discussed offer valuable lessons for resolving other significant consumer class actions.
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