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Archer-Gift v. Citigroup, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 30, 2017

CYNTHIA ARCHER-GIFT, Individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
CITIGROUP, INC., THE HOME DEPOT, INC., and SEARS, ROEBUCK AND CO., Defendants.

          DECISION GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, (DOC. 34), AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PERMIT DISCOVERY, (DOC. 38) [1]

          AVERN COHN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A. The Case

         This is an Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. § 1691, case. Plaintiff Cynthia Archer-Gift (Archer) seeks damages relating to the denial of her applications for credit at Defendants Sears, Roebuck and Co. (Sears) and The Home Depot, Inc. (Home Depot) stores.

         The credit was in a credit card for Sears and a credit card for Home Depot. Archer says each card was valid only at stores affiliated with the brand company, (Doc. 16 ¶¶ 14, 29). She says each card was operated as a joint venture with Defendant Citigroup, Inc. (Citigroup), who “administered” cards, (Id. ¶¶ 13-14, 28-29).

         Archer says that she never received a written “adverse action” notice of the reason for the denial of credit from Sears or from Home Depot, and that the notice for Sears, in the form of a letter, was deficient based on its stated reason “Unable to comply with consumer statement.”[2]

         B. Procedural History

         Defendants have moved to dismiss, (Doc. 22), on the grounds that a letter from each company stating the reason for the denial of credit were sent to Archer by U.S. mail and were specific enough to satisfy the ECOA. In support, defendants attached a copy of each letter, (Docs. 22-2, 22-3).

         In response, Archer reasserted that she never received either letter and the Sears letter's language lacked specificity. Archer said that each defendant has not established a letter was sent because each has not offered proof of mailing.

         The Court denied defendants' motion to dismiss without prejudice, (Doc. 28). It reasoned:

. . . There is a factual issue of whether Archer received an adverse action notice from Home Depot and the statement in the Sears notice “Unable to comply with consumer statement” lacks precision. . . .
Defendants intend to file a motion for summary judgment within 21 days. Archer shall have 14 days to respond.

(Id. at 2). Also, the Court granted Archer time to conduct additional discovery relating to factual issues identified by the Court. (See Doc. 34-6 at 18-19).

         C. Pending Motions

         Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 34), stating there is no genuine issue of material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.[3] In support, they attach employee declarations and business records of Citigroup.

         Archer responds on the merits and asks the Court to defer ruling on the motion until she has had an opportunity to conduct additional discovery. She has filed a “Motion to Permit Discovery” in this regard under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d), (Doc. 38).

         D. Disposition

         1. Summary Judgment

         For the reasons elaborated below, Archer has failed to rebut the presumption based on defendants' proofs that she received each letter. Moreover, each letter's statement of the reason for the denial of credit pertaining to Archer's credit report was specific enough to meet the notice requirements of the ECOA. Defendants' motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 34), is GRANTED.[4]

         2. Discovery

         As discussed below, Archer has been afforded ample opportunity to conduct discovery in relation to the content and mailing of each letter. For this reason, her motion to permit additional discovery, (Doc. 38), is DENIED.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment will be granted if the moving party demonstrates that there is “no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). There is no genuine issue of material fact when “the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The Court must decide “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” In re Dollar Corp., 25 F.3d 1320, 1323 (6th Cir. 1994) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 ...


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