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Skanes v. Equifax Information Services, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

June 5, 2019

SANTARSHA SKANES, Plaintiff,
v.
EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, a Georgia limited liability company, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          STEPHEN P. FRIOT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant Trans Union, LLC's motion to dismiss, converted in part to a motion for summary judgment, is before the court. Doc. no. 21. Plaintiff filed a response brief (doc. no. 28), and defendant filed a reply brief. Doc. no. 30. Following the court's conversion of a portion of the motion to ensure that it could consider certain documents (doc. no. 33), Trans Union submitted a supplemental brief. Doc. no. 34.

         The converted portion of the motion is Trans Union's argument that it was not inaccurate, as a matter of law, for reports prepared by Trans Union to fail to note an allegedly errant tradeline[1] as “discharged in bankruptcy.” This order addresses only the converted portion of the motion. For the reasons stated below, the court finds in favor of Trans Union on that issue.

         Standards

         The converted portion of the motion is evaluated under the standards of Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P. Under that rule, summary judgment shall be granted if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists when “there is sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of a material fact exists, the evidence is to be taken in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). All reasonable inferences to be drawn from the undisputed facts are to be determined in a light most favorable to the non-movant. United States v. Agri Services, Inc., 81 F.3d 1002, 1005 (10th Cir. 1996).

         The Nature of the Claims

         Trans Union concedes it is a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Doc. no. 21, p. 12.

         The complaint alleges that in that capacity, Trans Union prepared, published and otherwise reproduced consumer reports regarding the plaintiff, and that such reports contained information about the plaintiff which was false, misleading and inaccurate. The sole inaccuracy identified in the complaint with respect to Trans Union's reporting is that plaintiff's credit file at Trans Union included what the complaint refers to as “Errant Tradelines reporting without the correct notation of bankruptcy discharged.” The tradeline in question relates to an account plaintiff had with First Premier Bank (First Premier). Per Trans Union's moving brief, this was a credit card account which plaintiff maintained with First Premier.[2]

         The complaint alleges that plaintiff submitted a letter to Trans Union disputing the purportedly errant tradeline, explaining in her letter that the errant tradeline was discharged in her bankruptcy and asking Trans Union to report the tradeline as “discharged in bankruptcy.” The complaint alleges that plaintiff then received Trans Union's investigation results, which showed that Trans Union failed or refused to report the tradeline with what plaintiff contends would be the correct notation, i.e. “bankruptcy discharged.”

         Based on these allegations, the complaint brings claims against Trans Union for negligent and willful violations of the FCRA, specifically, for violations of 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b)[3] and § 1681i.[4] Under §1681e(b), plaintiff claims Trans Union failed to maintain or follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information it reported to one or more third parties pertaining to plaintiff. Under § 1681i, plaintiff claims that following her dispute of the First Premier tradeline, Trans Union failed to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation. The complaint alleges that as a direct cause of these failures, plaintiff suffered various damages.

         Documents

         Undisputed documents attached to Trans Union's motion include plaintiff's bankruptcy petition and the discharge order entered in that bankruptcy.

         In addition, a declaration submitted by Trans Union identifies documents in plaintiff's credit file at Trans Union. These undisputed documents show the First Premier account reporting with the following information: “Pay Status: Account Included in Bankruptcy” and “Date Closed: 03/14/2016.” No. balance or past due amount is indicated with respect to the First Premier account. The “Remarks” section pertaining to this account notes: “Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.” Plaintiff contends that the tradeline regarding the First Premier account should be reported by Trans Union with the words “bankruptcy discharged” (or words to that effect) rather than with the phrase which now appears, “Account Included in ...


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