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Bevly v. Equifax Information Services, LLC

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

April 1, 2019

KEISHA BEVLY, Plaintiff,
v.
EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant RAC Acceptance East, LLC's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. No. 21). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         Background

         Plaintiff brings this action for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681, et seq., against four defendants: credit reporting agencies Equifax Information Services, LLC, and Trans Union, LLC (collectively referred to as “CRAs”), and credit information furnishers St. Louis Community Credit Union and RAC Acceptance East, LLC, d/b/a/ Acceptance Now (“RAC”) (collectively referred to as “Furnishers”).[1]

         Plaintiff alleges generally that she filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on May 27, 2015 and received an Order of Discharge from the Bankruptcy Court on September 17, 2015. (Complaint (“Compl.”), Doc. No. 1 at ¶¶ 9-10). On August 30, 2017, Plaintiff obtained her Equifax and Trans Union credit report and noticed an account listed with RAC without a notation of bankruptcy discharge.[2] (Id. at ¶ 11). Without this notation, Plaintiff asserts that any creditor reading her credit report would be misled to believe that this account is still open and active when in fact, the account is closed and no longer her obligation. (Id. at ¶ 12). Plaintiff disputed the credit report in a letter to Trans Union and Equifax on May 1, 2018, explaining that the accounts reflected by the “errant trade lines” were discharged in bankruptcy and attaching the Order of Discharge. (Id. at ¶¶ 13-14). Plaintiff received the CRAs' investigation results showing that the CRAs and the Furnishers “failed or refused to report the Errant Trade Line with the notation of bankruptcy discharge.” (Id. at ¶¶ 16-18).

         As relevant to Defendant RAC, Plaintiff alleges that after being informed by the CRAs that she disputed the accuracy of the credit reporting, RAC negligently and willfully “failed to conduct a proper investigation of Plaintiff's dispute”; negligently and willfully “failed to review all relevant information available to it and provided by [the CRAs] in conducting its reinvestigation”; and negligently and willfully “failed to direct [the CRAs] to report the notation of bankruptcy discharge on the Errant Trade Line, ” all as required by 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b). (Id. at ¶¶ 20-21; 27-28). Plaintiff alleges that as a result of RAC's actions, she has suffered damages, mental anguish, and incurred attorney's fees.

         Relying on Kaestner v. Diversified Consultants, Inc., No. 4:17-CV-2607 CAS, 2018 WL 465786, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 17, 2018), RAC moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against it for failure to state a claim. RAC argues that Plaintiff's factual allegations are so threadbare and conclusory that RAC cannot discern the improper conduct in which it allegedly engaged and to meaningfully contest it. Specifically, RAC maintains that the complaint contains no details or facts about what RAC did or communicated in response to the purported communication from the CRAs (Doc. No. 22 at 5-6), and no facts regarding the information allegedly provided by the CRAs to RAC, or what RAC allegedly did in response (id. at 6-7).

         Plaintiff responds that federal pleading standards do not require her to plead the level of specificity RAC is suggesting and that she has pled sufficient facts to support a plausible claim for relief against RAC pursuant to Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). (Doc. No. 26 at 4). Plaintiff argues that no consumer could plead facts regarding the communications between a CRA and a furnisher or the details of a furnisher's investigative practices with the specificity sought by RAC before engaging in discovery. Alternatively, Plaintiff requests leave to amend her complaint. (Id. at 7).

         RAC replies that under Twombly and Iqbal, Plaintiff must make a plausible FCRA claim before seeking discovery and that here, Plaintiff is merely restating the elements of her claim in a conclusory fashion. (Doc. No. 28 at 2).

         Legal standard

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court assumes all facts alleged in the complaint are true, and liberally construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008). The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570. A claim is facially plausible if it allows the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the conduct alleged. See Horras v. Am. Capital Strategies, Ltd., 729 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir. 2013); Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009). “Threadbare” recitations of the elements of a claim supported only by “conclusory statements” will not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Rather, a plaintiff must allege some facts to raise the allegation above the level of mere speculation. Id.

         In ruling upon a motion to dismiss, “matters outside the pleadings are not to be considered, while attachments to the pleadings can be.” Kehoe v. Wal-Mart Stores E., LP, No. 4:08CV991 HEA, 2009 WL 57143, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 9, 2009). However, documents “necessarily embraced by the complaint” are not matters outside the pleading. Enervations, Inc. v. Minnesota Mining & Mfg. Co., 380 F.3d 1066, 1069 (8th Cir. 2004).

         Discussion

         Under FCRA, if a consumer notifies a consumer reporting agency of a dispute regarding the completeness or accuracy of information contained in the consumer's credit report, the CRA is required to reinvestigate the disputed information. Id. § 1681i(a). As part of its reinvestigation, the CRA must notify the furnisher of the credit information of the dispute. Id. § 1681i(a)(2). Upon notice of a dispute from a CRA, § 1681s-2(b)(1) requires the furnisher of the information to conduct an investigation regarding the dispute and report its findings accordingly. Section 1681o of the FCRA provides consumers with a cause of action for negligent ...


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