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EDGE v. PROFESSIONAL CLAIMS BUREAU

September 10, 1999

JAMES EDGE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PROFESSIONAL CLAIMS BUREAU, INC., AND `JOHN DOE,' DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wexler, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, James Edge ("Plaintiff" or "Edge") commenced this action pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (the "FCRA"), the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 408 and the Consumer Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030. Named as defendant is Professional Claims Bureau, Inc. ("Professional"), a company engaged in the business of debt collection. The complaint alleges, essentially, that Professional obtained Plaintiff's credit report for an improper purpose and that this action violated the above-referenced statutes.

Presently before the court is defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

The undisputed facts surrounding plaintiff's complaint are stated simply. James Edge is employed as a process server. On May 23, 1997, Edge appeared at Professional's office for the purpose of serving a summons in connection with a civil lawsuit naming Professional as a defendant. On that same date, Professional accessed a credit reporting service, known as "Experian," and obtained Edge's address. Edge contends that the credit search was conducted in "retaliation" for Edge's attempt to serve Professional and therefore was for a purpose deemed improper by the FCRA.

Additional facts, supplied by way of Professional's affidavit in support of its motion for summary judgment, and uncontroverted by Plaintiff, indicate that prior to the time that Edge's credit report was obtained, Professional had been referred a debt for collection by North Shore Hospital. Edge was the guarantor of that debt. Professional attempted to collect on the hospital debt in 1996 by sending a letter that was returned as undeliverable.

Because of the referral of the hospital debt for collection, Professional was, on May 23, 1997, in possession of Edge's social security number. Professional used that number to conduct the May 1997 search, known in the credit industry as a "social search," to obtain Edge's address. The credit reporting agency providing the data requested indicated to Professional that the search would not be disclosed as a credit inquiry to those requesting Plaintiff's credit history. This is confirmed by Professional's submission of a copy of Plaintiff's credit report, produced by Plaintiff in discovery in this matter. That report notes Professional's May 1997 inquiry and confirms that this inquiry, along with several others noted on the report, falls into a class of inquiries that are not reported to those asking for a review of Plaintiff's credit history.

Despite obtaining Edge's address in 1997, Professional made no attempt to collect the hospital debt. According to Professional, the decision not to pursue the debt was based upon Edge's occupation as a process server for an attorney specializing in FRCA law.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Principles

A. Summary Judgment Standards

Professional has moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Summary judgment is appropriate only if there are "no genuine issue as to any material fact" and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c). On motions for summary judgment the court will not try issues of fact, but will determine only if there are issues to be tried. See Donahue v. Windsor Locks Bd. Of Fire ...


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