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Shkreli v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 27, 2015

ROBERT SHKRELI, Plaintiff,
v.
JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

LORNA G. SCHOFIELD, District Judge.

Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("Chase" or the "Bank"), terminated Plaintiff Robert Shkreli's employment with the Bank after accusing him of filing false credit bureau reports on multiple credit card accounts. Plaintiff, who denies the allegations, brings suit against his former employer for intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"), false imprisonment, violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), defamation and violations of the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL") and the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL"). Defendant moves for summary judgment. For the reasons below, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

The facts are taken from the parties' Rule 56.1 statements and exhibits submitted in connection with the motions, and are undisputed except as otherwise noted.[1]

Plaintiff is a 40-year-old former Chase employee of Albanian origin. Chase is a national banking association and operates approximately 5, 600 consumer retail bank branches across the country.

A. Plaintiff's Employment at Chase

On December 14, 2004, Chase offered Plaintiff a position as a Consumer Banker at the bank's Astoria branch. The position required Plaintiff to obtain "appropriate securities and insurance licenses" within 60 days of his employment. Chase's offer letter to Plaintiff warned that failure to pass the licensing tests on the first attempt would terminate his position as a Consumer Banker. Plaintiff provided Chase with an address in Maspeth, New York. Plaintiff denies that he was ever employed by Chase in 2004 because he failed a required licensing test.

More than six years later, in August 2011, Chase hired Plaintiff for the position of Personal Banker. Chase employment records for Plaintiff list the Maspeth address that he had initially provided in 2004. Chase records also list the same social security number Plaintiff provided in 2004.

Plaintiff was assigned to a Chase branch in Larchmont, New York. Until June 2012, Plaintiff reported to Branch Manager Arif Seyal, and thereafter reported to Branch Manager Alexandra Padilla.

B. Chase Investigative Report

On October 15, 2012, a Data Security Investigator for Chase Bankcard Services informed the Bank's Global Security and Investigations Department ("GSI") that she suspected Plaintiff had filed numerous false credit bureau reports alleging that he had been the victim of identity theft or fraud. According to the Investigator's Report (the "Report"), Plaintiff had opened four credit card accounts in 2006 and 2007, failed to pay the associated charges and eventually filed four credit bureau reports claiming that he had not opened the accounts and was not responsible for them. The Report stated that between February 11, 2010, and September 20, 2012, Plaintiff filed 11 credit bureau reports claiming that he had been a victim of identity fraud related to a Chase credit card. Data Security eventually determined that the credit bureau reports were baseless and that Plaintiff was responsible for the outstanding charges on the credit cards. The Report also listed three other charged-off credit cards in Plaintiff's name.

The Report stated that on October 1, 2010, Plaintiff had filed a criminal complaint with the New York City Police Department claiming that he had been the victim of identity theft between January 1, 2006, and June 1, 2009. Plaintiff's criminal complaint lists "Home-Permanent" under the heading "Location, " and under "Address" lists the Maspeth address.

The matter was referred to James Guilfoyle, a GSI investigator. Guilfoyle obtained documents relating to (1) the various charged-off credit card accounts in Plaintiff's name, (2) a Chase checking account connected to those credit cards in Plaintiff's name and (3) Plaintiff's employment with Chase. The documents showed that all four credit cards under investigation were opened between February 2006 and November 2007.

In April 2006, a credit card account was opened in Plaintiff's name, listing the Maspeth address as his home address and using the same social security number he had on record with Chase. The statements for this credit card were sent to a P.O. Box that Plaintiff used at least occasionally. The account was used for overdraft protection on the Chase checking account in Plaintiff's name. Statements for this credit card showed that the account was debited several times to provide overdraft protection to the checking account.

In February 2007, a credit card account was opened listing Plaintiff's name, date of birth and the Maspeth address. In March 2007, a balance transfer check of $6, 800 was debited from the credit card account and transferred to a Chase checking account in Plaintiff's name. Several withdrawals were then made from the checking account using driver's license information that matched the driver's license information Plaintiff had provided to Chase in 2004.

Documents show two additional credit cards opened in Plaintiff's name in February 2006 and November 2007. Based on his review, Guilfoyle concluded that the information on all four credit card applications was consistent and contained the same handwriting and signatures. According to Guilfoyle, the purchases on the credit cards were routine everyday purchases and not extraordinary purchases typically associated with identity theft and stolen credit cards.

In his credit bureau report disputes, Plaintiff denied ever applying for any of the four credit cards and disclaimed any responsibility for the charges on the cards, which totaled $13, 952.76. Plaintiff claims he has been a victim of identity theft on multiple occasions. In support, he includes two letters, both from more than one year after the last credit card at issue was opened. The first is from New York Community Bancorp, Inc., dated March 9, 2009, informing Plaintiff that his debit card details were compromised, but that "[n]one of your bank account information was compromised or affected by the breach." The second is from ECMC, a guarantor of federal student loans, dated March 31, 2010, informing Plaintiff that his information, including name, date of birth, social security number and address were stolen as part of a large data breach. Based on Plaintiff's filings with credit bureau reporting agencies, Capital One, American Express and Citibank concluded that Plaintiff had been a victim of credit card fraud and closed the credit cards that were open in his name.

C. Chase's Oral and Written Questioning of Plaintiff

On November 13, 2012, Guilfoyle asked Plaintiff to come to Guilfoyle's office in Nanuet for a meeting. On the phone, Guilfoyle identified himself as associated with GSI. Plaintiff went to meet Guilfoyle at his office later that ...


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