Facts: Plaintiff asserted claims against Trans Union LLC (“Trans Union”) under § 1681e(b) and § 1681i and against Experian Information Solutions, Inc. (“Experian”) under § 1681e(b) and § 1681g of the FCRA. With respect to Trans Union, Plaintiff claimed that it reported an account on Plaintiff’s credit file that belonged to another person and that because of prior history, Trans Union was aware that the account should not have been reporting on Plaintiff’s credit file. As to Experian, Plaintiff claimed that he was denied credit by Citibank because Experian failed to report enough satisfactory credit references on his Experian consumer report. Further, Plaintiff also claimed that Experian did not provide him with a copy of the consumer report it sent to Citibank. Trans Union and Experian moved for summary judgment on all claims, and Plaintiff also filed motions for summary judgment against the Defendants.
The Court granted summary judgment in favor of Trans Union except on Plaintiff’s § 1681e(b) claim for alleged mental anguish damages, a credit denial, and punitive damages. Experian’s motion for summary judgment was granted in its entirety, and Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment was denied.
To show negligent noncompliance under § 1681e(b), a plaintiff must show: (1) the existence of an inaccurate credit report; (2) that the CRA failed to follow reasonable procedures to assure the maximum possible accuracy of its reports; (3) that the plaintiff suffered an injury; and (4) that the CRA’s failure caused the plaintiff’s injury. With respect to Trans Union, the Court concluded that there was some evidence that it failed to take reasonable precautions to ensure that information regarding another specific individual did not appear on Plaintiff’s credit report.
Under § 1681n, a plaintiff need not prove actual damages but may recover punitive and statutory damages as well as costs and fees if a defendant willfully violates the FCRA. A “willful violation” is either an intentional violation or a violation committed by an agency in reckless disregard of its duties under the FCRA.
Pursuant to § 1681g, an individual may request a copy of his or her consumer credit file. However, a CRA is not required to provide a copy of a consumer’s report when one is requested for evaluation by a potential credit grantor. Thus, Plaintiff’s claim against Experian that it did not provide him a copy of the credit report provided to Citibank failed as a matter of law.
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Attorneys from Strasburger & Price, LLP involved in FCRA litigation have been monitoring and analyzing the legislative and caselaw developments related to this area of the law. This group of lawyers will continue to follow these developments throughout the coming months to help you understand how it impacts your business as well as to help you make the necessary decisions to succeed under this ever changing area of credit reporting and employment screening/criminal and credit background check compliance.
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Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments