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Parker v. Commonwealth Financial Services

May 29, 2008

JEFFERY PARKER, PLAINTIFF
v.
COMMONWEALTH FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC., RECEIVABLES PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT, TRANS UNION, EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES LLC, AND BUDGET RENTAL CAR, D/B/A AVIS BUDGET GROUP, LLC, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is Defendant Budget Rental Car's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Having been fully briefed, the matter is ripe for disposition.

Background

This case arises from plaintiff's dispute with various credit rating agencies over the contents of his credit report. Plaintiff alleges that the credit rating services failed to perform a reasonable investigation when plaintiff disputed his credit reports and falsely reported that plaintiff had failed to satisfy creditors. (Complaint (Doc. 1) (hereinafter "Complt.") at ¶¶ 9, 14, 17, 20-22, 25). Plaintiff alleges that his ability to obtain bank loans, utility service, rental cars and credit for satisfaction of debts has been harmed by the actions of the defendant credit bureaus. (Id. at ¶¶ 10, 15, 18-19, 26, 28). The actions of the credit agencies also caused the plaintiff embarrassment, mental anguish and inconvenience. (Id. at ¶ 10). Despite plaintiff's efforts to correct the mistaken information on the agencies' reports, his credit report continues to contain this information. (Id. at ¶¶ 17, 18, 24-25).

On February 27, 2008, plaintiff filed the instant pro se complaint. The complaint raises causes of action against the defendants under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq., as well as claims under California law against Defendant Budget Rental Car. On March 25, 2008, Defendant Budget Rental Car ("Budget") filed the instant motion to dismiss, and the parties briefed the motion. Meanwhile, the plaintiff filed notices of voluntary dismissal against Defendants Equifax Information Services (Doc. 20), Receivables Performance Management (Doc. 21), Trans Union (Doc. 26) and Commonwealth Financial Services (Doc. 29). After this round of voluntary dismissals, only Defendant Budget Rental Car remained as a defendant in the case. The remaining parties then briefed the instant motion to dismiss, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

Because the case was originally brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq., we have jurisdiction pursuant to § 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."). We have supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state-law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

Legal Standard

When a 12(b)(6) motion is filed, the sufficiency of a complaint's allegations are tested. The issue is whether the facts alleged in the complaint, if true, support a claim upon which relief can be granted. In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and give the pleader the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can fairly be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

Discussion

The remaining defendant in this case is Budget Rental Car. Plaintiff's complaint raises only one allegation against Budget. Budget, plaintiff alleges, refused to provide him with a rental car when he arrived in Florida on January 28, 2008, despite a reservation he had earlier made. (Complt. at ¶ 18). When he arrived at the rental counter, an agent informed plaintiff that Budget had run his credit report through the Equifax agency. (Id.). A message from Equifax allegedly gave plaintiff a "don't rent" rating and Budget refused plaintiff the car he had reserved. (Id.). Plaintiff had already contacted Budget to make a reservation and had been informed that he could pay with a debit card and a deposit. (Id.). Budget never informed him that his rental was contingent on a positive credit report. (Id.).

Instead, Budget simply denied him his rental, allegedly based on his Equifax report. (Id.). Plaintiff contends, however, that his Equifax report should not have contained any adverse information, and that he had a clean driving record, a past rental history with Budget and a reservation for the car. (Id.). Budget did not offer plaintiff any "reasonable explanation" for its refusal to rent him the car.

The only cause of action raised against Budget in the complaint is one under California law. Plaintiff does not make any allegations that Defendant Budget violated any provision of federal law, and the only federal law which he cites as providing grounds for his complaint is the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The preamble for that act notes that "[t]he banking system is dependent upon fair and accurate credit reporting. Inaccurate credit reports directly impair the efficiency of the banking system, and unfair credit reporting methods undermine the public confidence which is essential to the continued functioning of the banking system." 15 U.S.C. ¶ 1681(a)(1). Accordingly, the Congress found that "[t]here is a need to insure that consumer reporting agencies exercise their grave responsibilities with fairness, impartiality, and a respect for the consumer's right to privacy." 15 U.S.C. ¶ 1681(a)(4). The act is thus aimed at consumer reporting agencies, which Congress defined as "any person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties." 15 U.S.C. ¶ 1681a(f).

A plaintiff who hopes to prevail in an action under most provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act "must prove initially that the defendants are consumer reporting agencies as defined by the Act." 451 F. Supp. 447, 448 (E.D. Pa. 1977). The statute provides a four-part definition of such an agency: "(1) The consumer reporting agency must act for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative non-profit basis; (2) it must regularly engage in whole or in part in gathering or evaluating information on consumers; (3) the purpose of such activity must be the distribution of information to third parties engaged in commerce; and (4) the agency must use a ...


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