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Kaestner v. Diversified Consultants, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 17, 2018

JACOB KAESTNER, Plaintiff,
v.
DIVERSIFIED CONSULTANTS, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CHARLES A. SHAW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on defendant Diversified Consultants, Inc.'s (“DCI”) motion to dismiss. Plaintiff Jacob Kaestner opposes the motion and it is fully briefed. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss, construed as a motion for judgment on the pleadings, will be granted.

         I. Background

         This is an action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692, et seq. (“FDCPA”), and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681, et seq. (“FCRA”). The case was filed in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Missouri, Associate Circuit Division, and removed to this Court by defendant Trans Union, LLC, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1441, and 1446. Plaintiff sues nine defendants: Credit reporting agencies Equifax Information Services, LLC, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., and Trans Union, LLC (collectively referred to as “CRAs”), and credit information furnishers Transworld Systems, Inc., American Express Centurion Bank, Inc., Capital One, N.A., Credit One Bank, Citibank North America, and DCI (collectively referred to as “Furnishers”).[1]

         Count I of the petition asserts a violation of the FDCPA by defendants DCI and Transworld System, Inc., Count II asserts a violation of the FCRA by the three CRAs and is not at issue on the instant motion, and Count III asserts a violation of the FCRA by the Furnishers.

         Plaintiff alleges that in the fall of 2016, he noticed that the Furnishers were “reporting inaccurate, negative and derogatory information about” him to the CRAs. Pet. ¶ 18. In response, plaintiff sent a detailed written dispute to the three CRAs that explained how the tradelines were inaccurate and asked for a reinvestigation. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. The CRAs responded that they verified or updated the derogatory accounts and refused to remove them. Plaintiff sent new reinvestigation correspondences to the CRAs on four separate dates, but the CRAs again responded that they verified the accounts and refused to delete the tradelines. Id. ¶¶ 20-23.

         As relevant to defendant DCI, plaintiff alleges that DCI “should never have been reporting as Plaintiff paid the original creditor, even though Plaintiff disputed owing [it] any money.” Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiff alleges that the “inaccurate information of all the Defendant credit furnishers includes, but is not limited to: incorrect payment history, outstanding and delinquent balance, dates, status, amount owed and past due.” Id. ¶ 27. Plaintiff alleges that the CRAs and Furnishers “have wrongfully verified the derogatory tradelines since Plaintiff's initial FCRA dispute and all other subsequent written disputes, ” and “have continued to report and maintain this derogatory and inaccurate information related to Plaintiff's credit history and said derogatory information has been conveyed to third parties.” Id. ¶¶ 29-30. Plaintiff alleges that because he already paid and did not owe the amount DCI is claiming, DCI is attempting to collect a debt that it cannot legally collect in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692e, and is misrepresenting the character, amount and/or legal status of the alleged debt in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(2)(A). Id. ¶ 32.

         In Count III, plaintiff additionally alleges that the CRAs reported to DCI that plaintiff disputed the collection accounts, charge-offs, and false credit reporting, but despite receiving this information, DCI “failed to respond with truthful information, failed to acknowledge the disputes and/or reported the false, derogatory information, ” and continued to falsely report about plaintiff to the CRAs. Id. ¶¶ 45-47. Plaintiff alleges that DCI failed to “respond to reinvestigation requests and failed to supply accurate and truthful information” in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b), id. ¶ 48, and continued to report false and inaccurate information, failed to retract, delete, and suppress false and inaccurate information it reported about plaintiff, and failed to investigate or reinvestigate regarding inaccurate consumer data it reported and re-reported about plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 49-51.

         Plaintiff alleges that as a result of DCI's actions, he was prevented from obtaining financing, suffered emotional distress, and incurred attorney's fees.

         II. Legal Standard

         DCI filed the instant motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but it previously filed an answer (Doc. 11) to the petition. A Rule 12(b)(6) motion technically cannot be filed after an answer has been submitted, see Rule 12(b); NanoMech, Inc. v. Suresh, 777 F.3d 1020, 1023 (8th Cir. 2015). Rule 12(h)(2) provides that a defense of failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted may be raised in a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). The Court will therefore construe DCI's motion to dismiss as a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c).

         A motion under Rule 12(c) is determined by the same standards that are applied to a motion under Rule 12(b)(6). Ginsburg v. InBev NV/SA, 623 F.3d 1229, 1233 n.3 (8th Cir. 2010). To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A plaintiff “must include sufficient factual information to provide the ‘grounds' on which the claim rests, and to raise a right to relief above a speculative level.” Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & n.3). This obligation requires a plaintiff to plead “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         The Court accepts as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, even if it appears that “actual proof of those facts is improbable, ” id. at 556, and reviews the complaint to determine whether its allegations show that the pleader is entitled to relief. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56; Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The principle that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint does not apply to legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III. ...


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