cause of action for a consumer reporting agency's willful failure to comply with any requirement of the Act. Under § 616, the consumer may recover actual and punitive damages, as well as costs and attorney's fees. Section 617 provides the consumer with a cause of action for a consumer reporting agency's negligent failure to comply with any requirement of the Act. Under § 617, the consumer may recover actual damages, costs and attorney's fees.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act does not impose strict liability upon consumer reporting agencies. The mere fact that a report disseminated by a credit reporting agency contains inaccurate and/or stale information does not provide the consumer with a cause of action; rather, it is the agency's failure to maintain and follow "reasonable procedures" to avoid violations of, for example, § 605(a)(4) and/or to assure the maximum possible accuracy of the information contained in the report which gives rise to liability. 15 U.S.C.A. § 1681e. Thus, it is entirely possible that a trier of fact could find that while a report contained inaccurate and/or stale information, the reporting agency followed "reasonable procedures" and, thus, is not liable. See, e.g., Bryant v. TRW, Inc., 689 F.2d 72 (6th Cir. 1982); Stewart v. Credit Bureau, Inc., 236 U.S. App. D.C. 146, 734 F.2d 47 (D.C. Cir. 1984); Thompson v. San Antonio Retail Merchants Association, 682 F.2d 509 (5th Cir. 1982); Hauser v. Equifax, Inc., 602 F.2d 811 (8th Cir. 1979), and Pendleton v. Trans Union Systems Corp., 76 F.R D. 192 (E.D. Pa. 1977).
In the instant action, the plaintiff has asserted a number of discrete causes of action. Each shall be discussed seriatim.
1. The J. C. Penney credit application.
As stated above, the plaintiff claims that he was denied credit by J. C. Penney based on adverse information contained in a report disseminated by the defendant, specifically, the $ 858.00 "past due debt" to CoreStates Bank.
(See defendant's "Reply Brief", Doc. 15, Exhibit A [as designated by this Court], consumer disclosure dated 8/14/85). The plaintiff asserts that the CoreStates entry was inaccurate because it reflects a balance owing and past due to CoreStates of $ 858.00. In fact, as already indicated, this debt was discharged pursuant to the aforementioned bankruptcy proceeding and, therefore, the plaintiff had no outstanding debt due and owing CoreStates. Thus, if J. C. Penney interpreted the $ 858.00 entry under the heading "Present Status" as meaning the plaintiff had a presently outstanding, past due debt owing to CoreStates, the entry would be inaccurate. As might be expected, it is the defendant's position that J. C. Penney did not interpret the entry in this manner but, rather, understood it to mean that a debt of $ 858.00 was discharged by the plaintiff's bankruptcy. Interestingly, the only evidence before us as to the meaning of the entries regarding the CoreStates account, other than the two consumer disclosures themselves, is a letter from defendant's counsel to plaintiff's counsel purporting to explain the cryptic codes utilized in the consumer reports. Even more interesting is the fact that this letter was proffered by the plaintiff as part of his summary judgment motion. (See plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. # 13, Exhibit A). In the letter, counsel for the defendant explains that the "BKL" entry accompanying the CoreStates Bank account description means that the "manner of payment" of the debt was a "charge off" as a result of the plaintiff's bankruptcy. The plaintiff has introduced no contradictory evidence which would indicate that J.C. Penney interpreted the CoreStates entries in a manner other than that asserted by the defendant, i.e., that an $ 858.00 debt owed by the plaintiff to CoreStates Bank was discharged by a bankruptcy and that the plaintiff presently had no outstanding debt due and owing CoreStates. As a result, we find that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to the accuracy of the report disseminated by the defendant to J. C. Penney, that the report, as interpreted by J. C Penney, was accurate, and that the defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to this aspect of the plaintiff's action.
Further, the plaintiff has apparently chosen not to pursue its claim that the report received by J. C Penney was inaccurate since it has failed to respond to the defendant's arguments in its summary judgment motion that the report was accurate. Thus, we believe we would also be justified in simply concluding that the plaintiff has abandoned this claim. See e.g., Teamsters Local No. 429 v. Chain Bike Corp., 643 F. Supp. 1337, 1338 n. 1 (E.D Pa. 1986).
2. The other credit applications.
The plaintiff next claims that the CoreStates entries, as contained in reports disseminated by the defendant after October 20, 1985, i.e., seven years after the bankruptcy court's entry of an order for relief or adjudication in the plaintiff's proceeding, constituted obsolete information under § 605(a)(4) of the Act, since CoreStates had charged the debt off to profit and loss more than seven years prior to the defendant's issuance of the reports. The 5/8/86 consumer disclosure, Exhibit B [as designated by this Court], attached to defendant's "Reply Brief", Doc. # 15, reflects that four consumer reports were disseminated by the defendant after October 20, 1985, to the following entities: CB Lanc. Co., Inc., E. Wright Real Estate, Fulton Bank, and Sears Roebuck & Co. Each of these reports indicated that CoreStates had charged off the $ 858.00 debt in October, 1978.
Section 605(a) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act in its relevant portions provides as follows:
Except as authorized under subsection (b) of this section, no consumer reporting agency may make any consumer report containing any of the following items of information:
(1) Cases under Title 11 or under the Bankruptcy Act that, from the date of entry of the order for relief or the date of adjudication, as the case may be, antedate the report by more than ten years.