United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Scottland Johnson brings this case against Defendant Credence
Resource Management, asserting claims for negligent and
willful violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
(“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
Defendant has filed a motion for summary
judgmentand seeks statutory attorney's fees.
Plaintiff was granted several chances to respond to
Defendant's motion, and was also afforded an opportunity
to request discovery. To date, he has not responded. The
motion shall be granted as to liability and denied as to
filed a complaint pro se and in forma
pauperis against Defendant, alleging that Defendant
obtained his consumer credit report without a permissible
purpose, in violation of FCRA. In his complaint, Plaintiff
alleges that he has never had any business dealings or
accounts with Defendant and that Defendant obtained his
consumer credit report without Plaintiff's consent. In
support of its summary judgment motion, Defendant submitted
an affidavit from its Manager of Compliance, Denise Lewis, in
which she stated that it obtained Plaintiff's consumer
credit report for the purpose of collecting a debt that was
placed with Defendant by T-Mobile. Defendant also submitted
docket reports from four similar lawsuits filed by Plaintiff
in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against various debt
collectors alleging similar violations of FCRA in connection
with the debt collectors' procurement of Plaintiff's
consumer credit report. Finally, Defendant submitted a
screenshot of Plaintiff's consumer credit report.
imposes civil liability for willfully or negligently
obtaining a consumer credit report for a purpose that is not
authorized by the statute. 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681b(f),
1681n(a), 1681o. Among the permissible purposes enumerated by
the statute is “to use the information in connection
with a credit transaction involving the consumer . . . and
involving the extension of credit to, or review or
collection of an account of, the consumer.” 15
U.S.C. § 1681b(a)(3)(A) (emphasis added). This provision
allows debt collectors to access credit reports for the
purpose of collecting on debts placed with the debt collector
by another entity. See Huertas v. Galaxy Asset
Mgmt., 641 F.3d 28, 34 (3d Cir. 2011).
affidavit, Denise Lewis states that on October 20, 2015,
T-Mobile placed with Defendant a debt owed by Plaintiff for
cellphone services. Lewis further attests that on October 21,
2015, Defendant obtained Plaintiff's consumer credit
report in an effort to collect the T-Mobile debt. This is
confirmed by the screenshot of Plaintiff's consumer
credit report, which also shows that Defendant requested
Plaintiff's consumer credit report on October 21, 2015.
Taken together, these undisputed facts are sufficient to
establish that Defendant accessed Plaintiff's credit
report pursuant to a permissible purpose under FCRA.
makes two allegations in his Complaint to support his theory
that Defendant unlawfully obtained his credit report, both of
which are unavailing. First, he states that he has
“never had any business dealings or accounts
with” Defendant. Second, he states that Defendant
obtained his credit report without his consent. However,
neither of these conditions are required for the disclosure
of a consumer credit report to be permissible. See
Huertas, 641 F.3d at 34 (citing 15 U.S.C. §
1681b(a)(3)(A)). Therefore, Defendant is entitled to summary
judgment in its favor on the question of liability.
also requests that the Court award statutory attorney's
fees. 15 U.S.C. § 1681n(c). To prevail would
“require a showing that [the Complaint] was
filed in bad faith.” Rogers v.
Johnson-Norman, 514 F.Supp.2d 50, 52 (D.D.C. 2007)
(collecting cases). Here, Defendant's sole argument for
attorney's fees is that the instant action is one of five
lawsuits Plaintiff filed on the same day against debt
collectors alleging similar violations of FCRA, and that
because the Defendants in four out of five of those cases
have “filed dispositive motions, ” this suit
constitutes “harassment.” On such a thin record,
it is not possible to conclude that the Complaint was filed
in bad faith or for the purposes of harassment. Consequently,
Defendant is not entitled fees under Section 1681n(c), and so
the motion for attorney's fees will be denied.
 “[S]ummary judgment is
appropriate where there ‘is no genuine issue as to any
material fact' and the moving party is ‘entitled to
a judgment as a matter of law.'” Alabama v.
North Carolina, 560 U.S. 330, 344 (2010) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “A genuine issue is present when a
reasonable trier of fact, viewing all of the record evidence,
could rationally find in favor of the non-moving party in
light of his burden of proof.” Doe v. Abington
Friends Sch., 480 F.3d 252, 256 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-26
(1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248-52 (1986)). In deciding a motion for summary
judgment, “[t]he reviewing court should view the facts
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw
all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”
Burton v. Teleflex Inc., 707 F.3d 417, 425 (3d Cir.
2013). However, the party opposing summary judgment must
support each essential element of the opposition with
concrete evidence in the record. Celotex, 477 U.S.
at 322-23. “[T]he non-movant may not rest on