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Jones v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

November 12, 2013

KEISHA JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
EXPERIAN INFORMATION SOLUTIONS, INC., Defendant

For Keisha Jones, Plaintiff: Kevin Christopher Mallon, LEAD ATTORNEY, Fishman & Neil, LLP, New York, NY.

For Experian Information Solutions, Inc., Defendant: Joseph A. Strazzeri, Richard John Galati, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEYS, Briana Rose Hulet, Jones Day (NYC), New York, NY.

OPINION

Page 269

DECISION AND ORDER

Colleen McMahon, U.S.D.J.

Plaintiff, Keisha Jones (" Plaintiff) brings this action against Experian Information Solutions, Inc. (" Defendant" or " Experian" ) alleging Defendant violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as codified 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq . (" FCRA" ). Plaintiff specifically claims that Defendant, a credit reporting agency (" CRA" ), willfully failed to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation in violation of 15 U.S.C. § § 1681i, 1681n. Defendant has moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is denied.

Page 270

Background

On January 20, 2011 Plaintiff called Defendant to dispute two credit items that were appearing on her Experian credit report. (Scott Depo. 31:8-18; Def. Exh. G). Defendant had been reporting that Plaintiff owed Central Financial Control (" CFC" ) balances of $540 and $260 for debts initially belonging to Hahnemann University Hospital. ( Id.). Plaintiff contended that she never incurred these debts. ( Id.). She insisted that her identity was stolen and the accounts were opened by the identity thieves. ( Id.).

Defendant requires consumers to provide their name, social security number, date of birth and address to Experian before it would allow a consumer to dispute such an account. (Scott Depo. 124:7-12). Plaintiff did so. ( Id.).

Defendant then sent CFC an electronic consumer dispute verification (" CDV" ) form requesting it verify the accounts. (Scott Depo. 37:5-12, Def. Exh. G). CFC responded by sending back the forms and verifying that the accounts had been opened by someone using Plaintiff's correct name and social security number, but with birth date of August 18, 1974. (Def. Exh. G). Plaintiff's actual date of birth is June 24, 1970. (Jones Depo. 24:9). Both the accounts listed an address of 523 W. Fisher Ave, Philadelphia, PA; Plaintiff resided in New York and used post office boxes in New York as her address. (Jones Depo., passim; Def. Exh. G). However, one of the forms returned by CFC stated that current address on file was for the account was the " Same" as the mailing address Plaintiff provided to Defendant at the time she made the dispute: P.O Box 634, Bronx, NY. (Def. Exh. G). The other form returned by CFC indicated the address on file was " Different" than the one Plaintiff provided. (Def. Exh. G).

On March 3, 2011 Defendant sent the results of its investigation to Plaintiff's mailing address in the Bronx. Defendant advised Plaintiff that it would not remove the disputed charges from the credit report. (Scott Depo. 54:25-55:3; Def. Exh. J, EXP98-119).

On November 18, 2011 Plaintiff called Defendant to dispute yet another item that was appearing on her credit report. (Scott Depo. 104:11-105:4). Comcast had reported $2,956 was past due and had been written off. (Def. Exh. D, EXP-1184). Plaintiff complained that someone had used her identifying information to open a Comcast account in her name without her consent. (Def Exh. N; Def. Exh. F, EXP1169).

Defendant mailed a CDV form to Comcast, informing them that Plaintiff disputed the account as fraudulent. (Def. Exh. N). Comcast returned the form, informing Experian that their account had a differently spelled first name for Plaintiff -- Keshia instead of Keisha -- and had address listed as 332 West Berkeley Street, Philadelphia, PA, not Plaintiff's address. (Def. Exh. N; Scott Depo. 106:3-14). Comcast indicated the date of birth and social security number were the same. (Def. Exh. N; Scott Depo. 106:3-14). Defendant again decided to keep the information on Plaintiff's credit report, sending her the notification of the results to her P.O. Box address in the Bronx on December 9, 2011. (Def. Exh. O).

On December 9, 2011 Plaintiff initiated this action, claiming that Defendant failed to conduct a " reasonable reinvestigation" as required by the FCRA in response to her disputes. Plaintiff is not seeking compensation for actual damages, for she suffered none. Since the time Plaintiff disputed these items, Defendant has not issued a consumer credit report to third parties, nor did Plaintiff apply for credit or authorize access to her credit file while

Page 271

the disputed items appeared there. (Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ ¶ 24-25). Instead Plaintiff seeks statutory and punitive damages under the FCRA.

Defendant has moved for summary judgment. Defendant argues that its reinvestigation complied with the FCRA as a matter of law, claiming it was not required to look further into the disputed accounts once they were verified by CFC and Comcast and because Plaintiff did not provide sufficient documentation. Defendant further argues that in order for Plaintiff to recover under the FCRA, Plaintiff must show that the disputed credit items were furnished to a third party. Finally, Defendant argues ...


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