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Campbell v. Accounts Receivable Management, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

July 20, 2015

MARCUS CAMPBELL Plaintiff,
v.
ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE MANAGEMENT, INC., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART SUMMARY JUDGMENT

GREG KAYS, District Judge.

This case involves allegedly unlawful access to a credit report. Pro se Plaintiff Marcus Campbell ("Campbell") alleges that Defendant Accounts Receivable Management, Inc. ("ARM") masqueraded as one of his creditors to impermissibly access his credit report to gather information about him. Campbell filed suit in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri, alleging, among other claims, a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. After ARM timely removed to this Court, Campbell filed an amended four-count complaint alleging: (1) a FCRA claim; (2) a claim under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act ("MMPA"), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.020; (3) a claim under a Missouri penal statute proscribing the use of false statements to obtain property, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 570.140; and (4) a claim for identity theft under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 270.224.

Now before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment on all counts (Doc. 21). The motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. The motion is denied insofar as it challenges the FCRA claim because there still remains a genuine dispute as to whether ARM had a permissible purpose when it accessed Campbell's credit report and its offer of judgment did not moot this claim. The motion, however, is GRANTED as to the three remaining counts because there is no genuine dispute as to these claims and ARM is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on them.

Undisputed Factual and Procedural Background

The undisputed facts are as follows.[1] ARM is a New Jersey corporation engaged in the business of, among other things, debt collection. On or about October 25, 2012, GMAC requested that ARM collect upon a delinquent account bearing Campbell's name. ARM never provides evidence on or explains what GMAC is, [2] what services it provided, or how the alleged debt arose. However, Campbell attests that he never had any business dealings or accounts with GMAC.[3] Shortly after GMAC's request, ARM obtained Campbell's credit report from TransUnion, a major credit-reporting agency. ARM claims that it accessed his credit report to assist in reviewing and collecting upon the GMAC account.

On June 2, 2014, Campbell retrieved his credit report and noticed that ARM had previously pulled his report. On October 4, 2014, after Campbell amended his complaint, ARM made an offer of judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68. ARM offered $1, 001 plus Campbell's costs for the action. Campbell then filed an "acceptance" on November 14, 2014, in which he agreed to the $1, 001 but set his "costs" at $1, 500. After a mediation session, ARM filed the instant motion.

Standard of Review

A moving party is entitled to summary judgment "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." Fed R. Civ. P. 56(a). A party who moves for summary judgment bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). When considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must scrutinize the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, but "[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge." Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000)).

Once the moving party has satisfied his or her initial burden, the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts" in order to establish a genuine issue of fact sufficient to warrant trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, but the nonmoving party "cannot create sham issues of fact in an effort to defeat summary judgment." RSBI Aerospace, Inc. v. Affiliated FM Ins. Co., 49 F.3d 399, 402 (8th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial." Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042 (quoting Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 585 (2009)).

Discussion

ARM moves for summary judgment on each of Campbell's claims. The Court addresses each count separately below.

I. ARM is not entitled to summary judgment on Campbell's FCRA claim.

ARM provides two alternative arguments as to why Campbell's FCRA claim fails as a matter of law. First, ARM contends that it had a permissible purpose when it accessed Campbell's report. Second, ARM contends that its offer of judgment ...


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