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Legal Startup Offers to Finance Small Claims Cases against Equifax
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Summary: A legal litigation finance company is helping Equifax victims sue the credit reporting bureau. 

Earlier this month, credit reporting bureau Equifax was breached by hackers, and millions of Americans had their personal info exposed. Now, a legal startup is hoping to help victims file small claims against the San Francisco-based company; and this could mean a huge headache for Equifax.

  
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Equifax is already facing an intimidating class-action lawsuit, and approximately 143 million people are eligible to join. But for those who don’t want to be a part of the class-action, they can file a small claim with the help of Legalist, which promises to put up the fees until the plaintiffs collect.

Equifax victim Devin McGahey spoke to CBS News, and he said that the idea of filing a case in small claims court against a major corporation was intimidating, even with his background as a legal assistant. But he found Legalist, a startup that offered to fill out the paperwork for him and pay his $90 filing fee, and with their assistance, he filed a claim.

Legalist co-founder Christian Haigh told CBS that the startup wanted to change the industry. He and his co-founder Eva Shang finance lawsuits for small businesses and individuals, and they take a percentage only if the case is won.

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“I thought that it was unique, I thought it was bold. I thought it was kind of a good way to shake up the legal industry,” Haigh said of the concept of starting a litigation finance company.

Haigh said that it was a surprise that a company such as Equifax would open itself up to lawsuits in the way that they did. Shang said that their goal is to have Equifax fight thousands of small claims lawsuits, and if their plaintiffs win, then they collect 30%. If their plaintiffs lose, Legalist takes a hit but the plaintiff loses nothing.



“It was incredible to me that a company the size of Equifax could be so incompetent and negligent with consumers’ data,” Haigh said.

Shang said that thousands have already signed up to use their service in cases against Equifax.

Rob Weissman, who leads the consumer group Public Citizen, said that people don’t need assistance filing small claims and that it is better to be a part of a class-action lawsuit, which has the power to force a big organization to change.

“If people want to make the choice to file small claims cases, they can go ahead and do that, they don’t need any assistance,” said Weissman. “Making Equifax do things going forward to do a better job of protecting its data, so that people don’t get subjected to this kind of injury in the future. Those are the kinds of things that class actions do and do really well, and they are things that small claims court or individual cases don’t.”

The class-action pending against Equifax is estimated to be worth multi-billions of dollars and it is known as one of the biggest consumer lawsuits ever filed. On Tuesday, Equifax’s CEO announced his retirement. The company would not comment on Legalist’s small claims lawsuits against it.

What do you think of Equifax? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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