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Hamm v. Equifax Information Services LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 24, 2018

Tanya Hamm, Plaintiff,
v.
Equifax Information Services LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          HONORABLE JOHN J.TUCHI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         At issue is Defendant Trans Union LLC's (“Trans Union”) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 22, Mot.), to which Plaintiff Tanya Hamm filed a Response (Doc. 27, Resp.), and Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. 28, Reply). No party requested oral argument, and the Court finds the Motion appropriate for resolution without such argument. See LRCiv 7.2(f). For the reasons that follow, the Court denies Defendant's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         For some period of time, Plaintiff and her mother jointly held an account with Synchrony Bank (“Synchrony”), which required the payment of monthly fees.[1] (Compl. ¶ 8.) Despite Plaintiff's mother's Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in February 2017, Plaintiff attempted to keep the account open by paying the next month's fee in a timely fashion. (Compl. ¶ 9.) However, Synchrony refused to accept payment, informing Plaintiff that the bank closed the account. (Compl. ¶ 10.) On August 5, 2017, Plaintiff performed a routine check of her credit report with two credit reporting agencies (“CRA”), including Defendant. At that time, Plaintiff discovered-to her shock-that Defendant incorrectly listed the status on her Synchrony trade line as “charged off, ” rather than the correct status of “closed.”[2] (Compl. ¶ 11.)

         Subsequently, Plaintiff mailed a letter to Defendant disputing the status on her credit report and requesting that Defendant correct the mistake. (Compl. ¶¶ 12, 13.) Plaintiff included both a copy of her mother's bankruptcy petition and an explanation of the pertinent circumstances. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Defendant failed to respond to this letter and did not update the incorrect status on Plaintiff's credit report. (Compl. ¶¶ 16.)

         On October 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed suit against Trans Union for its purported violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. In particular, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant negligently and willfully failed to assure the maximum accuracy of the information it reported and to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation. (Compl. ¶¶ 44-56.) Defendant now moves for dismissal on two bases. First, Defendant contends that Plaintiff fails to allege facts sufficient to establish Article III standing-and thus, this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. (Mot. at 12-13.) Second, Defendant argues that Plaintiff fails to state a plausible claim upon which relief may be granted for either a negligent or willful violation of the FCRA. (Mot. at 4-11.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         “A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may attack either the allegations of the complaint as insufficient to confer upon the court subject matter jurisdiction, or the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact.” Renteria v. United States, 452 F.Supp.2d 910, 919 (D. Ariz. 2006) (citing Thornhill Publ'g Co. v. Gen. Tel. & Elecs. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979)). “Where the jurisdictional issue is separable from the merits of the case, the [court] may consider the evidence presented with respect to the jurisdictional issue and rule on that issue, resolving factual disputes if necessary.” Thornhill, 594 F.2d at 733; see also Autery v. United States, 424 F.3d 944, 956 (9th Cir. 2005) (“With a 12(b)(1) motion, a court may weigh the evidence to determine whether it has jurisdiction.”). The burden of proof is on the party asserting jurisdiction to show that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. See Indus. Tectonics, Inc. v. Aero Alloy, 912 F.2d 1090, 1092 (9th Cir. 1990).

         When analyzing a complaint for failure to state a claim for relief under Rule 12(b)(6), the well-pled factual allegations are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cousins v. Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2009). A plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 680 (2009), and therefore are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. In re Cutera Sec. Litig., 610 F.3d 1103, 1108 (9th Cir. 2010).

         In ruling upon a motion to dismiss for failure to state claim, a court may consider only the complaint, any exhibits properly included in the complaint, and matters that may be judicially noticed pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201. See Mir v. Little Co. of Mary Hosp., 844 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1988); Isuzu Motors Ltd. v. Consumers Union of U.S., Inc., 12 F.Supp.2d 1035, 1042 (C.D. Cal. 1998). The court may take judicial notice of facts “not subject to reasonable dispute” because they are either: “(1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed.R.Evid. 201; see also Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 689 (9th Cir. 2001) (noting that the court may take judicial notice of undisputed “matters of public record”). The court may disregard allegations in a complaint that are contradicted by matters properly subject to judicial notice. Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010).

         III. ANALYSIS

         The Court first addresses the jurisdictional basis of Defendant's Motion before moving to its arguments under Rule 12(b)(6).

         A. Article III Standing

         To bring a justiciable lawsuit into federal court, Article III of the Constitution requires that a plaintiff have “the core component of standing.” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992). To satisfy Article III's standing requirements, a plaintiff must show that she suffered a “concrete and particularized” injury that is “fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant, ” and that a favorable decision would likely redress the injury. Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-81 (2000). In the complaint, the plaintiff must “alleg[e] specific facts sufficient” to establish standing. Schmier v. U.S. Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit, 279 F.3d ...


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