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Jeffrey D. Shannon v. Equifax Information

January 26, 2011

JEFFREY D. SHANNON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
EQUIFAX INFORMATION
SERVICES, LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anita B. Brody, J.

MEMORANDUM

I.Introduction

Plaintiff Jeffrey D. Shannon ("Plaintiff" or "Shannon") brings suit against Defendant Equifax Information Services, LLC ("Defendant" or "Equifax")*fn1 under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (2006) ("FCRA"); the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 201-1 et seq. (2008) ("UTPCPL"); and the common law doctrines of negligence and invasion of privacy/false light. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1681p (2006) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367 (2006). Defendant Equifax has filed a motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, I will grant in part and deny in part that motion.

II.Background*fn2

Plaintiff Jeffrey D. Shannon moved from Paoli, Pennsylvania to West Chester, Pennsylvania in 2008, and requested that Verizon transfer service from his old to his new address, effective July 17, 2008. Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 19, ECF No. 29; Counterstatement of Material Facts ¶ 19; ECF No. 31. In September of 2008, Verizon stated that Plaintiff owed $260.10. Statement ¶ 20; Counterstatement ¶ 20. On October 18, 2008, Plaintiff sent Verizon a check for that amount. Statement ¶ 21; Counterstatement ¶ 21. On October 27, 2008, Plaintiff received a bill from Verizon, stating that Plaintiff owed $161.16. Statement ¶ 22; Counterstatement ¶ 22. On November 27, 2008, Plaintiff received a bill from Verizon, stating that Plaintiff owed $180.76. Statement ¶ 23; Counterstatement ¶ 23. On December 27, 2008, Plaintiff received a bill from Verizon, stating that Plaintiff owed $183.12 ($180.76 plus a $2.36 late fee). Statement ¶ 25; Counterstatement ¶ 25. Verizon representatives advised the Shannons to disregard both the November and December bills. Statement ¶¶ 24, 26; Counterstatement ¶¶ 24, 26.

In March of 2009, Plaintiff received a collection notice from the North Shore Agency, Inc., seeking to collect $183.12 on behalf of Verizon. Statement ¶ 27; Counterstatement ¶ 27. On March 24, 2009, a Verizon representative advised Plaintiff that he was in fact entitled to a refund of $76.98, since he had paid $260.10 in October when only $183.12 was due. Statement ¶ 28; Counterstatement ¶ 28. However, Plaintiff never received a refund check. Statement ¶ 29; Counterstatement ¶ 29. Rather, Verizon never cashed Plaintiff‟s check for $260.10. Statement ¶ 30; Counterstatement ¶ 30.

Equifax is a consumer reporting agency. Statement ¶ 1; Counterstatement ¶ 1. It compiles information it receives from creditors, public records, merchants, and other sources and assembles that information into credit reports that are provided to subscribers who have a permissible purpose for obtaining these reports. Statement ¶ 1; Counterstatement ¶ 1.It maintains credit history files on more than 200 million consumers and receives over one billion updates from thousands of data furnishers every month. Statement ¶ 2; Banks Decl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 29. Equifax accepts information regarding a consumer‟s credit only from those sources that are determined by Equifax to be reasonably reliable. Statement¶ 3; Banks Decl. ¶ 5.

On May 20, 2009, Equifax received notice of Plaintiff‟s dispute with Verizon. Statement ¶ 31; Counterstatement ¶ 31. On May 28, 2009, Equifax prepared an Automated Consumer Dispute Verification ("ACDV") concerning Plaintiff‟s dispute and sent it to Verizon. Statement ¶ 37; Banks Decl. ¶ 23. The form included a box labeled "FCRA Relevant Information," in which Equifax wrote: "Consumer states that the outstanding balance write off noted on this account is derived from an error in Verizon[‟]s billing and Verizon has indicated that he is overpaid on this account and [will] send him a refund check." Statement ¶ 38; Banks Decl. ¶ 24. Verizon provided an automated response that an unpaid balance of $183.12 had been correctly reported as a loss. Statement ¶ 39; Banks Decl. ¶ 25. Thus, Equifax made no changes to Plaintiff‟s credit file. Statement ¶ 40; Counterstatement ¶ 40.

III.Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see Kornegay v. Cottingham, 120 F.3d 392, 395 (3d Cir. 1997). A fact is "material" if the dispute "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "genuine" if the evidence would permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id.

The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there are no material facts supporting the nonmoving party‟s legal position. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party carries this initial burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The nonmoving party cannot rely upon "bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions" to support its claim. Fireman's Ins. Co. v. DuFresne, 676 F.2d 965, 969 (3d Cir. 1982). Rather, the party opposing summary judgment must go beyond the pleadings and present evidence, through affidavits, depositions, or admissions on file, to show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.

The threshold inquiry at the summary judgment stage involves determining whether there is the need for a trial, that is, "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.

IV.Discussion

Defendant has moved for summary judgment on each of Plaintiff‟s four claims against it:

1) that Defendant violated the FCRA, 2) that Defendant violated the UTPCPL, 3) that Defendant was negligent, and 4) that Defendant invaded Plaintiff‟s privacy by casting Plaintiff in a false light. I will deny Defendant‟s motion on Plaintiff‟s negligent FCRA claims, but I will grant Defendant‟s motion on Plaintiff‟s remaining claims.

A.FCRA

In Count IV of his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the FCRA by Willfully and negligently failing to conduct a proper and reasonable investigation concerning the inaccurate information after receiving notice of the dispute from the Plaintiff, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a);

Willfully and negligently failing to provide prompt notice of the inaccurate information and Plaintiff‟s dispute to the furnishing entities, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a);

Willfully and negligently failing to provide all relevant information provided by the Plaintiff regarding the dispute of the inaccurate information to the furnishing entities, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a);

Willfully and negligently [failing] to review and consider all relevant information submitted by the Plaintiff concerning the dispute of the inaccurate information, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a);

Willfully and negligently failing to note the Plaintiff‟s dispute of the inaccurate information and in subsequent consumer reports, in ...


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