Court Dismisses Majority Of Consumer’s FCRA Claims But Certain Alleged Damages Related to Reasonable Procedures Claim Against One CRA Survive Summary Judgment

By Michael Klazema on 5/9/2012

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.

Reasonable Procedures

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.

Punitive Damages

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.

Consumer Report

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.


About Strasburger & Price

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.


Click here to find out more about our authors.

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.

  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.

  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.