Supreme Court rules against identity theft victim

By Gina Holland

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled today against a California woman whose identity was stolen, closing the door on late lawsuits over credit reporting problems.

The 9-0 decision, the first of the court’s term, strips Adelaide Andrews of the right to sue a former credit reporting agency for giving out her private information. Her attorney argued that the lawsuit was late because she didn’t find out right away about the reporting activities.

Among other action today, the court:

  • Ordered that former President Clinton’s name be removed from the roster of lawyers approved for practice at the high court. Clinton asked to resign from the Supreme Court bar last week, rather than fight suspension or disbarment related to the Paula Jones sexual harassment investigation.

  • Refused to consider changing Louisiana’s law that gives some grandparents court-ordered rights to see their grandchildren. The justices declined to review an appeal from a former oil-rig worker left to raise a 1-year-old daughter when his wife died of a brain tumor. The man argued that his late wife’s family was trying to be a parent to his child.

  • Declined to spell out what school districts must do to accommodate emotionally troubled children. Justices refused to review a case that asked whether Congress intended special help for a student who used drugs and caused problems in his high school.

  • Refused to reinstate a libel case against the Russian daily newspaper Novoye Russkoye Slovo. Lev Navrozov sued the newspaper after he was the subject of columns published in the paper’s opinion section in 1996.

    In the stolen identity case, justices rejected arguments that victims need extra time to sue over damaged credit, but said Congress could reconsider the subject.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said from the bench that Congress imposed a two-year limitation on cases that accuse companies of violating a federal fair credit reporting law,

    “Courts have no warrant to enlarge the exceptions absent a green light turned on by the legislature,” she said.

    Andrews’ identity was stolen by a receptionist at a doctor’s office, her lawyers said. Andrews sued TRW in 1996 for disclosing her credit reports in 1994 and wrongly including a transaction by the impostor in her credit report.

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Andrews could sue TRW because the time limit for the case didn’t start until she discovered a problem.

    The Supreme Court, which overturned that, had been told by industry attorneys that companies could not keep records indefinitely in anticipation of lawsuits.

    Consumer advocates, who supported Andrews, argued that the fear of successful lawsuits would force the agencies to police their information more closely and catch identity thieves. The Bush administration also sided with Andrews.

    At least 20 percent of victims of identity theft do not find out about the theft within two years, federal statistics show.

    Congress was told this spring that identity theft has become a national crisis. The number of people victimized may be as high as 750,000 a year, privacy advocates have said.

    The case is TRW v. Andrews, 00-1045.

    Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    Talk to us

  • More in Local News

    Arif Ghouseat flips through his work binder in his office conference room Paine Field on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
    Paine Field Airport director departing for Sea-Tac job

    Arif Ghouse, who oversaw the launch of commercial air travel at Paine Field, is leaving after eight years.

    NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
    Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

    Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

    Josiah Degenstein
    Lake Stevens man with alleged white supremacist ties faces gun charges

    Storage units belonging to Josiah Degenstein contained multiple arsenals, according to police.

    Maricel Samaniego, center, teaches English to Liedith Espana, left, and Nemecio Rios, right, at Liberty Elementary School in Marysville, Washington, on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. Marysville schools partner with Everett Community College to offer free English classes to parents of multilingual students. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
    Free English class helps Marysville parents lower language barrier

    The school district partners with EvCC to teach practical classes on pronunciation, paperwork and parent-teacher conferences.

    Firefighters works through rescue drills during the Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue’s annual Water Rescue Academy on the Skykomish River Thursday afternoon in Index, Washington on May 5, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
    Snohomish Regional Fire asks voters for two more commissioners

    The district currently has seven commissioners, but it can keep only five. A Feb. 14 special election could change that.

    Photo by David Welton
A federal grant will help pay for the cost of adding a charging station to the Clinton ferry terminal.
    Federal money to help electrify Clinton ferry dock

    The Federal Transit Administration awarded state ferries a $4.9 million grant to help electrify the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

    News logo for use with stories about coronavirus COVID-19 COVID
    5 things to watch in Snohomish County as COVID public emergency ends

    Snohomish County health care leaders shared what they’re concerned about when the federal emergency expires May 11.

    Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
    Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

    Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

    Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
    After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

    “Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

    Most Read