Seungtae Kim v. BMW Financial is a case which was tried in federal court in Los Angeles, in which the jury rendered a verdict in plaintiff’s favor. Plaintiff Seungtae Kim, a Korean doctor of Eastern medicine, had his identity stolen by a former friend and colleague. The identity thief used Seungtae’s identity to buy a BMW, which was later repossessed because the identity thief did not maintain his payments. BMW Financial and two of the three major credit bureaus then reported the repossession on Seungtae Kim’s credit reports. Seungtae Kim disputed in writing with the credit bureaus and also sent identity theft police reports to the bureaus and to BMW Financial, but BMW Financial insisted that Seungtae Kim had colluded with the identity thief to purchase the car.
The trial proceeded on theories of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and the California Identity Theft Law. The jury returned a verdict in Seungtae Kim’s favor for $430,000.00. The judge then added attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the California Identity Theft law. The total verdict was close to $900,000.00, one of the largest verdicts of its kind in California under these laws.
BMW Financial appealed the verdict but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected BMW’s appeal and upheld the verdict in Seungtae Kim’s favor.
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