United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
OPINION, DEFENDANT'S PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS,
ECF NO. 4 - GRANTED IN PART
F. LEESON, JR. United States District Judge
Ramsey Coulter alleges that Defendant Pennsylvania Higher
Education Assistance Agency (“PHEAA”) violated
the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C.
§§ 1681-1681x, by providing inaccurate information
to credit bureaus, failing to conduct a reasonable
investigation after being notified that its information was
in dispute, and failing to correct the inaccurate
information. PHEAA has filed a partial Motion to Dismiss,
contending that several of Coulter's allegations fail to
state a claim under the FCRA. For the reasons set forth
below, PHEAA's Motion is granted in part.
Complaint alleges the following facts.
April 2015, Coulter filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Compl.
¶ 6. Coulter's eligible debts were subsequently
discharged in September 2015, but his student loan debts were
not discharged because they were not eligible. Compl. ¶
7. In total, Coulter had seven student loan “trade
lines” that were being reported by PHEAA to the Trans
Union, Equifax, and Experian credit bureaus. Compl. ¶ 8.
Prior to Coulter's bankruptcy, he had continuously paid
his student loan accounts on time. Compl. ¶ 9.
November 2015, each credit bureau listed Coulter's
student loans as running a $0 balance, with a comment listing
the accounts as discharged in bankruptcy. Compl. ¶ 10.
In fact, Coulter's student loans were never discharged,
nor had he filed for an “adversarial hearing” in
order to seek such discharge. Compl. ¶ 12.
reviewing his credit report and seeing that credit bureaus
were inaccurately reporting his student loans, Coulter sent a
letter to all three credit bureaus disputing the status of
these trade lines. Compl. ¶ 13. The credit bureaus
forwarded Coulter's disputes to PHEAA. Compl. ¶ 14.
In response to the disputes received from the credit bureaus,
PHEAA failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into
Coulter's dispute and allowed the trade lines to remain
inaccurate, significantly impacting Coulter's credit
worthiness by misrepresenting Coulter's likelihood to
timely pay his bills. Compl. ¶ 16.
basis of these allegations, Coulter asserts that PHEAA
violated the FCRA when it willfully and negligently: supplied
the credit bureaus with information about him that was false,
misleading, and inaccurate; failed to conduct an
investigation of the inaccurate information that he disputed;
failed to list the trade lines as in dispute; failed to
report the results of its investigation to the relevant
credit bureaus; failed to properly participate, investigate,
and comply with the credit bureaus' reinvestigations
concerning the inaccurate information disputed by Coulter;
and continued to furnish and disseminate inaccurate and
derogatory credit information concerning Coulter to the
credit bureaus. Compl. ¶¶ 22-30. Coulter seeks the
greater of statutory or actual damages, plus punitive
damages, along with costs, interest, and attorney's fees.
response to Coulter's Complaint, PHEAA filed the present
partial Motion to Dismiss, contending that several of
Coulter's allegations improperly assert claims for which
the FCRA provides no private right of action.
Standard of Review - Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). In rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, this
Court must “accept all factual allegations as true,
construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable
reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to
relief.” See Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny,
515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche
Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002))
(internal quotation marks omitted).
FCRA, enacted in 1970, “created a regulatory framework
governing consumer credit reporting” that
“‘was crafted 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.'” Seamans v. Temple
Univ., 744 F.3d 853, 860 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting
Cortez v. Trans Union, LLC, 617 F.3d 688, 706 (3d
Cir. 2010)). Under the FCRA, consumer reporting agencies, or
credit bureaus, “collect consumer credit data from
‘furnishers, ' such as banks and other ...