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Brooks v. Equifax Information Services LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 3, 2018

Glynis Brooks, Plaintiff,
v.
Equifax Information Services LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Honorable G. Murray Snow, United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings. (Doc. 21). For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Glynis Brooks received a letter from Wells Fargo on August 31, 2015 stating that her credit account “has been settled for less than the full balance” and “[n]o further liability remains with our company.” (Doc. 1 at 12). Nearly one year later, Defendant Equifax sent Ms. Brooks an “Equifax Credit Report” that listed her Wells Fargo account as having a delinquent, unpaid balance. (Doc. 1 at 15-16). On August 23, 2016, Ms. Brooks requested that Equifax investigate and correct the mistake. (Doc. 1 at 14). On September 20, 2016, Equifax responded to Ms. Brooks' request and maintained that the credit report correctly listed the delinquent balance at Wells Fargo. (Doc. 1 at 19-20).

         Ms. Brooks filed a lawsuit on January 26, 2017 in an Arizona Justice Court alleging that Equifax failed to comply with the Fair Credit Report Act, codified in 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (Doc. 1 at 8). Equifax successfully removed to federal court. (Doc. 1 at 1-2). In compliance with a court order, the parties conferred to determine whether an amended complaint could cure a deficient pleading. They failed to reach a consensus, and Equifax filed this Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings. (Doc. 21).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), a court may properly grant a motion for judgment on the pleadings “when, taking all allegations in the pleading as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Merchants Home Delivery Serv., Inc. v. Frank B. Hall & Co., 50 F.3d 1486, 1488 (9th Cir. 1995); Fajardo v. Cty. Of L.A., 179 F.3d 698, 699 (9th Cir. 1999). To survive a Rule 12(c) motion, a plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The court generally may not consider matters outside the pleadings without converting the motion into a motion for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). However, the court may “consider documents on which the complaint necessar[ily] relies.” Rosa v. Cutter Pontiac Buick GMC of Waipahu, Inc., 120 Fed.Appx. 76, 77 (9th Cir. 2005) (finding that a sales contract and its addendum were documents upon which the complaint necessarily relied).

         II. Analysis

         Federal law requires credit reporting agencies to follow reasonable procedures when preparing a consumer report. 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b). To make a prima facie case under § 1681e(b), a plaintiff “must present evidence tending to show that a credit reporting agency prepared a report containing inaccurate information.” Guimond v. Trans Union Credit Information Co., 45 F.3d 1329, 1333 (9th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). Even if a credit agency generates an inaccurate report, it can escape liability if it followed reasonable procedures. Id. Whether the credit agency followed reasonable procedures “will be jury questions in the overwhelming majority of cases.” Id.

         Concerning the question of whether a plaintiff must show that the credit agency distributed the credit report to a third party, the Ninth Circuit stated that “[n]o court has held that the prima facie case required that an inaccurate report was ever disseminated.” Trans Union Credit Information Co., 45 F.3d at 1333 n.3. See also Ottiano v. Credit Data Southwest, Inc., 54 Fed.Appx. 640 (9th Cir. 2003) (describing Trans Union Credit Information Co. holding as “neither the transmission of the report to third parties, nor a denial of credit, is a prerequisite to recovery under the FCRA”).[1] Therefore, a plaintiff need not show that a credit agency disseminated a credit report to a third party to establish a prima facie case.

         Ms. Brooks' pleading is based on two Equifax credit reports that erroneously consider her previously resolved debt to Wells Fargo. These reports “tend[] to show that a credit reporting agency prepared a report containing inaccurate information.” Trans Union Credit Information Co., 45 F.3d at 1333. These reports are sufficient for a prima facie case, and Mr. Brooks need not show that Equifax disseminated a credit report to a third party. The Court denies Defendant's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant Equifax Information Service's Motion for Partial Judgment on ...


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