Guy Wins Epic Legal Brawl With Bank Over Laptop Loan
His credit rating was zapped over computer he returned to store
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2014 1:42 PM CDT

(Newser) – Score one for the little guy in a fight against the banking industry—a 16-year fight to be exact. The Supreme Court in London has ruled in favor of a 44-year-old man who got severely penalized over a small loan for a laptop that he never actually owned, reports the Guardian. Richard Durkin's case began in 1998 when he bought a $2,400 laptop at a store called PC World. He put $50 down and signed a credit deal with HFC Bank, a division of HSBC, which handled the store's in-store financing. Durkin returned the laptop the next day, as he was told he could do, when he discovered it didn't have the appropriate modem. The store (eventually) returned his deposit. The bank? Not so much.

HFC insisted that Durkin still had to honor his loan payments on the laptop he didn't possess. He refused, and the bank destroyed his credit rating in turn, reports the BBC. Durkin won about $13,000 in damages, though he estimates that he's out far more than that because of his lousy credit. He says, for instance, that he was unable to buy a home. "It's victory, but they didn't have jurisdiction to help me in the end, which is disappointing," he says. "But I'm pleased for the consumer. A lot of people will benefit from this—it's massive." Both stories suggest that his victory could pave the way for others to challenge their credit ratings in court.

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Mar 28, 2014 5:20 AM CDT
Where is Charles Dickens when you need him?
Mar 26, 2014 6:22 PM CDT
This happens a lot more than you'd think, especially with credit card companies or banks who sell your debt. If you're smart you can challenge it in court, and with the right circumstances you can win damages for them harming your financial credibility. It's called the Debtors right act, or something similar to that.
Mar 26, 2014 4:55 PM CDT
HFC needed to try to settle for $25 but they underestimated the guy. Now he has "made law" against them that others will be able to cite. Classic risk. Payback is sweet. Reminds me of the late Robert William Kearns "Kearns won one of the best known patent infringement cases against Ford Motor Company (1978–1990) and a case against Chrysler Corporation (1982–1992). Having invented and patented the intermittent windshield wiper mechanism, which was useful in light rain or mist, he tried to interest the "Big Three" auto makers in licensing the technology. They all rejected his proposal, yet began to install intermittent wipers in their cars, beginning in 1969. **** After a settlement with Ford, Kearns mostly acted as his own attorney in the subsequent suit against Chrysler, even questioning witnesses on the stand. The Chrysler verdict was decided in 1992, and was a victory for Kearns. Chrysler was ordered to pay Kearns US$18.7 million with interest.[7] Chrysler appealed the court decision, but the Federal Circuit let the judgment stand.[8] The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.[9] By 1995, after spending over US$ 10 million in legal fees,[10] Kearns received approximately US$ 30 million in compensation for Chrysler's patent infringement" It took real guts: he could have settled but he wanted acknowledgement of the infringement and he fought for it!