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Michele M. Simmsparris v. Countrywide Financial Corp

July 28, 2011

MICHELE M. SIMMSPARRIS, APPELLANT
v.
COUNTRYWIDE FINANCIAL CORP.; COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. No. 2:08-cv-02434) District Judge: Hon. Katharine S. Hayden

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chagares, Circuit Judge.

PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) November 19, 2010

Before: BARRY, CHAGARES, and VANASKIE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Michele SimmsParris brought this action under the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681-- 1681x, to recover for the reporting of what she asserts was false information about her mortgage repayments. The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, determining that SimmsParris had not properly presented her claim as required by the FCRA, granted summary judgment against her. SimmsParris now appeals, and, for the reasons set forth below, we will affirm.

I.

A.

SimmsParris obtained a mortgage loan from Countrywide Home Loans ("CHL") on February 22, 2007. CHL maintains that, although SimmsParris‟s payments were due on the first of each month, her December 2007 payment was not received until December 31, and her January 2008 payment was not received until January 25. CHL states that, as a part of "common business practice," it "reports the status of its entire active loan portfolio to Experian, Equifax, Transunion and Innovis every month," and it followed this practice by reporting that SimmsParris‟s payments were not timely received. Joint Appendix ("JA") 1266. In February of 2008, SimmsParris learned that CHL had furnished information to credit reporting agencies that her December 2007 and January 2008 mortgage payments were late. She immediately had the law firm in which she was a partner draft a letter to CHL and its parent company, Countrywide Financial Corp. ("CFC"), to inform them that CHL had furnished false information. Even after SimmsParris reported this alleged error to CFC and CHL, they did not alter the information that they provided and continued to report that her payments had been delinquent.

B.

SimmsParris filed suit in the District of New Jersey on May 19, 2008, seeking to recover for defamation, false light invasion of privacy, breach of contract, negligence, negligent supervision, conversion, fraud, and violations of the FCRA. She also sought and received a temporary restraining order that enjoined CHL from reporting false information to third parties regarding SimmsParris‟s loan payments. CHL and CFC filed a motion to dismiss on June 25, 2008, contending that the FCRA preempted SimmsParris‟s claims, and later filed a motion for summary judgment on March 27, 2009. The District Court denied the motion to dismiss on March 31, 2009, stating that the motion was superseded by the motion for summary judgment, and denied the motion for summary judgment on April 3 for failing to comply with the local rule on page limitations.

CHL and CFC filed a second motion for summary judgment on April 9, 2009, and the District Court held oral argument on this motion on October 22, 2009. Following this hearing, the District Court granted summary judgment in the defendants‟ favor. In doing so, the District Court concluded that a private litigant seeking to recover against the furnisher of information under the FCRA must first make a complaint to a consumer reporting agency before the furnisher of information can face liability under the statute. Although the District Court granted summary judgment on all of SimmsParris‟s claims, it did not address the reasons for doing so in respect to her state law claims.

SimmsParris filed a timely notice of appeal and contests the District Court‟s grant of summary ...


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