United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on defendant Equifax
Information Services, LLC's motion for summary judgment
[#53]. Equifax moves this Court for an order granting summary
judgment on all claims asserted by the plaintiffs, Robert
Howell and Sherry Howell. The matter is ripe for disposition.
For the following reasons, the motion will be granted in
part, and denied in part.
claim that Equifax violated their rights by willfully and
negligently failing to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting
Act (“FCRA”) 15 U.S.C. § 1681, and were
injured as a result. It is undisputed that Equifax is a
credit reporting agency (“CRA”) under the FCRA,
meaning that Equifax collects credit information furnished to
them by other sources and creates consumer disclosures and
reports to sell to creditors. Hongkong and Shanghai Banking
Corporation (“HSBC”) provided Equifax with credit
information that resulted in Mr. Howell being labeled as
deceased on his Equifax credit report, when in fact Mr.
Howell was and remains very much alive. Plaintiffs argue that
the furnishing of inaccurate information that was given to
creditors led to two credit denials for Mr. Howell and that
the inaccurate information remained on his account for months
after he disputed the deceased notation.
moves for summary judgment on the following grounds:
1. Mrs. Howell's claim fail as a matter of law because
Equifax did not report any inaccurate information about her.
2. Mr. Howell's FCRA claim under § 1681i fails
because he lacks proof that he contacted Equifax to dispute
the HSBC account.
3. Mr. Howell's FCRA claim under § 1681e fails
because he cannot show that Equifax failed to maintain
reasonable procedures to assure the accuracy of his credit
4. Alternatively, the FCRA claims fail because the plaintiffs
cannot show that they sustained actual damages and cannot
prove any alleged violation caused the damages.
5. Finally, that plaintiffs cannot meet their burden under
§ 1681n of the FCRA to show that Equifax acted
in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the relevant facts
are as follows. Plaintiffs found their “dream
house” and applied for mortgage financing with Bank
Star of the Bootheel in January 2013. It appears, however,
that the actual application was made by Mr. Howell only, and
in fact, Mrs. Howell testified in her deposition that
“I don't think I applied for anything.” In
any event, soon after Mr. Howell met with bank loan officer
Erica Prater, she communicated to Mr. Howell that his Equifax
credit report contained a notation that he was deceased and
that because of this deceased notation, the bank could not
allow the mortgage process to go any further until the
problem was resolved. Ms. Prater, in her affidavit, stated that
she personally called Equifax to aid Mr. Howell in resolving
the issue and then followed Equifax's instructions to
dispute the deceased notation by faxing Equifax a letter on
Bank Star of the Bootheel letterhead signed by Mr. Howell and
notarized. Mr. Howell claims that he again disputed the
deceased notation via phone, fax, and internet, contacting
Equifax approximately 10 different times between January 2013
and April 2013. Ms. Prater further stated that Mr. Howell was
ultimately unable to secure financing for his mortgage
because of this deceased notation.
addition, Equifax's internal records indicate that
between January 2013 and August 9, 2013, the inaccurate
deceased notation from the HSBC credit line remained on Mr.
Howell's credit report and was released at least 13 times
to creditors during that period. Finally, Mr. Howell asserts
that he was denied financing to purchase a new vehicle
approximately eighteen months after he first disputed the
deceased notation because the notation remained on his credit