United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
ROBERT F. KELLY, Sr. J.
Presently before the Court is Defendant, Verizon Pennsylvania LLC’s (“Verizon”), Motion for Summary Judgment filed against Plaintiff, Howard Rosen (“Rosen”), Rosen’s Response, and Verizon’s Reply. For the reasons stated below, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Rosen initiated this action in the Philadelphia County Municipal Court on February 21, 2013. (Doc. No. 1, Ex. A.) Verizon removed the action to this Court on April 2, 2013. (Doc. No. 1.) Verizon is a limited liability company with a principal place of business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that provides telephone, cable, internet, and other related services to consumers in Pennsylvania. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 4. Rosen, a Pennsylvania resident, alleges a claim against Verizon for violations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et. seq., and a state law claim for defamation. Id. ¶¶ 22-26.
In his Amended Complaint, Rosen asserts the following. Prior to December 11, 2006, Rosen paid fees to Verizon in order to receive services for cable television, internet access, and landline telephone service. Id. ¶ 5. On May 9, 2007, AFNI, Inc. (“AFNI”), a debt collector acting on behalf of Verizon, notified Rosen of an alleged debt owed by Rosen to Verizon in the amount of $139.99. Id. ¶ 7. On May 16, 2007, Rosen notified AFNI that he was disputing the debt. Id. ¶ 8. On July 23, 2007, Rosen agreed that a portion of the debt in the amount of $76.51 was owed by him and he, subsequently, paid that amount. Id. ¶ 10. Rosen requested that the alleged remaining debt be marked as satisfied. Id. However, on November 28, 2007, another debt collector acting on behalf of Verizon, Park Dansan, notified Rosen of an outstanding debt of $78.83 and offered that Rosen pay $47.40 in full satisfaction of this alleged debt. Id. ¶ 11. Rosen rejected this offer on December 27, 2008, and continued to dispute the debt. Id. 12. Rosen never received any written or oral communication from any entity acting on behalf of Verizon following his rejection of the offer. Id. ¶ 13.
On February 22, 2012, Rosen received his credit report in connection with seeking a home mortgage refinancing which indicated that Verizon had reported a past due balance of $78.00 in October 2008. Id. ¶ 15. On February 23, 2012, and March 13, 2012, Rosen reported this dispute to two credit reporting agencies. Id. ¶¶ 16-18. Rosen contends that Verizon’s conduct of reporting this debt, despite many communications from him, “can only be explained by Defendant acting with malice and/or a willful intent to injure Plaintiff, ” and that this caused damage to his credit resulting in him receiving a higher interest rate in refinancing his mortgage. Id. ¶¶ 19-20.
Verizon filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on November 12, 2013. (Doc. No. 14.) Rosen filed a Response, and Verizon filed a Reply. (Doc. Nos. 15-16.)
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) states that summary judgment is proper “if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” See Hines v. Consol. Rail Corp., 926 F.2d 262, 267 (3d Cir. 1991). The Court asks “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether . . . one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “A fact is material if it could affect the outcome of the suit after applying the substantive law. Further, a dispute over a material fact must be ‘genuine, ’ i.e., the evidence must be such ‘that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party.’” Compton v. Nat’l League of Prof’l Baseball Clubs, 995 F.Supp. 554, 561 n.14 (E.D. Pa. 1998).
Summary judgment must be granted “against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Once the moving party has produced evidence in support of summary judgment, the non-moving party must go beyond the allegations set forth in its pleadings and counter with evidence that presents “specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am. Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1362-63 (3d Cir. 1992). “More than a mere scintilla of evidence in its favor” must be presented by the non-moving party in order to overcome a summary judgment motion. Tziatzios v. United States, 164 F.R.D. 410, 411-12 (E.D. Pa. 1996). If the court determines that there are no genuine issues of material fact, then summary judgment will be granted. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
1. Fair Credit Reporting Act
Congress enacted the FCRA in 1970 “to ensure fair and accurate credit reporting, promote efficiency in the banking system, and protect consumer privacy.” Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. v. Burr, 551 U.S. 47, 52 (2007). “The FCRA is intended ‘to protect consumers from the transmission of inaccurate information about them, and to establish credit reporting practices that utilize accurate, relevant, and current information in a confidential and responsible manner.’” SimmsParris v. Countrywide Fin. Corp., 652 F.3d 355, 357 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Cortez v. Trans Union, LLC, 617 F.3d 688, 706 (3d Cir. 2010)). The FCRA imposes duties not only on credit reporting agencies (“CRAs”), but also on those who furnish information to such agencies. Id. For example, under 15 U.S.C. § 1681s–2, a furnisher has a duty to provide accurate information to CRAs and a ...