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Paul Dieffenbach, Jr v. Rbs Citizens

May 8, 2012

PAUL DIEFFENBACH, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
RBS CITIZENS, N.A., D/B/A CITIZENS BANK ,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gene E.K. Pratter, J.,

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Paul Dieffenbach, Jr. claims that RBS Citizens, N.A. ("Citizens Bank") improperly terminated his credit card without justification in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act ("ECOA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1691, et seq., and failed to provide him with 45 days advance written notice of a significant change in his credit account terms in violation of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the "Credit CARD Act"). 15 U.S.C. § 1637, et seq.

Now before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the Court grants Citizens Bank's motion and denies Mr. Dieffenbach's motion.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Sometime in 2008, Citizens Bank issued Mr. Dieffenbach a Citizens Bank Platinum Credit Card. See Def. Ex. I, at 4. The card was set to expire in November 2010. Id. In interrogatory responses, Mr. Dieffenbach attested that "during the life of the subject card, [he] never missed a payment, never requested an extension of time to make a payment, . . . never exceeded his stated credit limit" and "never requested an increase in his credit limit nor any modification of the terms of the card/account." Def. Ex. F, at 2.

Nevertheless, on November 5, 2010, Citizens Bank sent Mr. Dieffenbach a letter informing him that it would not be renewing his credit card account because he did not score a sufficient number of points in Citizens Bank's scoring system for evaluating accounts. Def. Ex.

G. The letter identified that four reasons for his low score: "[1] Payments this month as a percentage of the amount due for last month, [2] Maximum balance as a percentage of credit limit in the last 3 cycles, [3] Length of time account has been opened, [and] [4] Total cash balances as a % of total balances in the last 3 cycles." Id. After Mr. Dieffenbach objected to the bank's decision, Citizens Bank sent him a second letter on December 30, 2010 reiterating its reasoning for closing his account and assuring him that its decision and reasoning were based on his personal credit history. Def. Ex. H.

Mr. Dieffenbach filed a complaint against Citizens Bank on April 27, 2011 alleging violations of the ECOA and the Credit CARD Act. Following discovery, on January 20, 2012, Citizens Bank filed a timely motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 20). *fn1 However, because this case was designated for arbitration under the Local Rules of this Court, and the Court had appointed an arbitrator on January 10, 2012, the filing of Citizens Bank's motion did not stay the arbitration. See Local Rule 53.2(4)(C). Accordingly, the parties proceeded to arbitration, following which a trial de novo was requested. In addition, Mr. Dieffenbach filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, and on May 7, 2012, filed a "Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment as to Residual Obligation Issue." The bank's motion remained extant.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Upon motion of a party, summary judgment is appropriate if, "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations, . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials," the moving party persuades the district court that "there exists no genuine issue of material fact that would permit a reasonable jury to find for the nonmoving party." F ED. R. C IV. P. 56(c); Miller v. Ind. Hosp., 843 F.2d 139, 143 (3d Cir. 1988). An issue is "genuine" if a reasonable jury could possibly hold in the non-movant's favor with regard to that issue. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" only if its resolution could affect the result of the suit under governing law. Id.

In evaluating a summary judgment motion, the court "must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party," and make every reasonable inference in that party's favor. Hugh v. Butler Cnty. Family YMCA, 418 F.3d 265, 267 (3d Cir. 2005). If, after making all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, the court determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact, summary judgment is appropriate. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 217, 322 (1986); Wisniewski v. Johns--Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 83 (3d Cir. 1987).

The same standards and burdens apply on cross motions for summary judgment. See Applemans v. City of Phila., 826 F.2d 214, 216 (3d Cir. 1987); Peters Twp. Sch. Dist. v. Hartford Accident and Indem. Co., 833 F.2d 32, 34 (3d Cir. 1987). Cross motions for summary judgment: are no more than a claim by each side that it alone is entitled to summary judgment, and the making of such inherently contradictory claims does not constitute an agreement that if one is rejected the other is necessarily justified or that the losing party waived judicial consideration and determination whether genuine issues of material fact exist.

Transportes Ferreos de Venezuella II CA v. NKK Corp., 239 F.3d 555, 560 (3d Cir. 2001) (quoting Rains v. Cascade Indus., Inc., 402 F.2d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 1968)). Of course, when presented with cross motions for summary judgment, the Court must and does consider the motions separately. See Williams v. Phila. Hous. ...


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