Bookmark and Share

 

LITIGATION

» Access to Courts and Court Remedies

» Campaign Finance and Election Laws

» Constitutional Rights and Requirements

» Health, Safety, and Environment

» Open Government and Open Courts

» Representing Consumers

» Workers' Rights


Currently Featured Topics

Government Transparency
Consumer Justice
First Amendment
Health, Safety and the Environment

SUPREME COURT
ASSISTANCE PROJECT

Read about our work helping lawyers
with cases in the Supreme Court.

 


  Public Citizen | Litigation Cases ***Search other cases***

Harris v. Mexican Specialty Foods

Topic(s): Consumer Justice
Scope of Statutory Rights and Remedies

Description:

These cases concerned the federal statutory protections available for consumers who are victims of identity theft or credit-reporting errors. In two consolidated Eleventh Circuit appeals, Public Citizen successfully obtained reversal of a first-impression decision that struck down as unconstitutional the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s statutory-damages regime. Public Citizen argued the appeal in March 2009 and the Eleventh Circuit issued its opinion in April 2009.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act provision at issue, consumers may recover damages of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000 for willful violations of the Act. Borrowing from the Supreme Court’s punitive-damages jurisprudence, the district court held that the provision is unconstitutionally vague and would result in minimum statutory damages that are unconstitutionally excessive. The district court’s ruling would have set a dangerous precedent by expanding the substantive due process review of punitive damages into liability that is defined by statute.

Copyright © 2014 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.

 

To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.