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Wylie v. Trans Union, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 2, 2017

DAVID C. WYLIE, Plaintiff,
v.
TRANS UNION, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KIM R. GIBSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is an action under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (“FCRA” or “Act”), in which Plaintiff David C. Wylie alleges that Defendant Trans Union, LLC (“Trans Union”) “continues to falsely and inaccurately report the status of [his] alleged debt owed to credit-furnisher First National Bank of Pennsylvania (‘FNB').” (Am. Compl. ¶ 8, ECF No. 11). Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 18). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is DENIED.

         I. Background

         On November 17, 2014, Plaintiff's daughter, Kathryn R. Wylie, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.[1] (Am. Compl. ¶ 17). Sometime that same month, FNB “furnished information to the Defendant that an account beginning with the Account # 4256045XXXX as [sic] delinquent, bad debt, placed for collection, charged off account and suspended.”[2] (Id. ¶ 18). “Defendant soon after began improperly reporting the information provided by FNB” on his credit report, apparently on the basis that he was a cosigner on the account. (Id. ¶ 19). Plaintiff, however, now denies that he cosigned the account. (Id. ¶ 26). To support that assertion, he has attached as an exhibit to his amended complaint a proof of claim filed by FNB in the bankruptcy proceedings on December 19 2014, along with the note which lists Plaintiff's daughter as the only borrower. (Id. ¶ 20; Ex. B).

         On April 2, 2015, Plaintiff's line of credit with U.S. Bank was reduced from $23, 000 to $500 “primarily due to ‘serious delinquency in time since delinquency was too recent or unknown.” (Id. ¶ 21). According to Plaintiff, “[t]he FNB report is the only negative account on [his] Credit Report.” (Id. ¶ 22).

         On April 29, 2015, Plaintiff sent a letter to Defendant, contending that his credit report contained “wrong and or incomplete” information. (Pl.'s Ex. D). In the letter, Plaintiff wrote:

[The FNB account] is my daughter's account and she filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in or around November 2014. I spoke to the bank back then and they said I was a co-signor on the account which opened in 2001 or so. I don't recall what happened 14 years ago. The bank has not called me or mailed me anything since they said they were not allowed to due to the Bankruptcy filing. Correct my credit at once.

(Id.) That same day, he sent a letter to FNB, disputing the information it had furnished to Defendant. (Pl.'s Ex. E). “I have never used this account, ” he wrote, “and since my daughter filed Bankruptcy I was told some sort of STAY happened and I received no bills or other methods to pay, if that was even possible.” (Id.).

         FNB responded to Plaintiff on May 4, 2015, explaining, as summarized in the amended complaint, that “[Plaintiff] was a co-signor [sic] on the loan, they were prohibited by the bankruptcy co-debtor stay from communicating with him about the loan and that the information they were reporting was the correct status of the loan.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 25).

         On May 14, 2015, Defendant informed Plaintiff that it had completed its investigation and provided him with a copy of his credit report. (Id. ¶ 27; Pl.'s Ex. G). In the report, Plaintiff was still listed as a cosigner on the FNB account, which had a pay status of “charged off.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff sent another letter to Defendant on June 9, 2015, in which he wrote:

For the second and final time. Get this lie off my credit. See the attached letter from FNB proving they would not speak to me, call me, give me bills or accept payments on this account once my daughter file [sic] her Chapter 7. Reporting this information is not fair to me since I had no ability to resolve my issue as a co-signor. It seems to me you should not be reporting any past due or bad rating on me since I did not have the chance to handle this on my own. My credit is perfect and your reporting is killing my score and my ability to get new loans.
[The FNB account] is my daughter's account and she filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in or around November 2014. I spoke to the bank back then and they said I was a co-signor on the account which opened in 2001 or so. I don't recall what happened 14 years ago. The bank has not called me or mailed me anything since they said they were not allowed to due to the Bankruptcy filing. Correct my credit at once.

(Pl.'s Ex. H). Two days later, he sent a second letter to FNB, reiterating his earlier dispute. (Id. ¶¶ 28-29). On June 30, 2015, Defendant responded “and failed to correct the inaccuracies.” (Id. ¶ 30). FNB responded on June 22, 2015, explaining that Plaintiff's request lacked specificity. (Id. ¶ 31).

         Plaintiff filed suit on May 4, 2016, alleging that Defendant willfully and negligently violated 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b) and 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a). (Compl. ¶ 34, ECF No. 1). Defendant moved to dismiss on July 5, 2016, arguing, as an initial matter, that Plaintiff could not establish an FCRA violation because he did not dispute that he cosigned the account and thus could not show that Defendant reported “inaccurate” information. (ECF No. 8). Plaintiff responded by filing an amended complaint, which is mostly identical to the original except Plaintiff now expressly alleges that he “still denies he was a signor on the account.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 26). On August 12, 2016, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, with a brief in support. (ECF Nos. 18-19). Plaintiff filed a response and a brief in opposition on September 2, 2016. (ECF Nos. 23-24).

         II. Jurisdiction & Venue

         This Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337(a), and 15 U.S.C. § 1681(p). Because a substantial part of the events giving rise to Plaintiff's claims occurred in the Western District of ...


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