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Parker v. Equifax Information Services, LLC

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

September 12, 2017

LINDA PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT [25]

          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Linda Parker filed a proposed class complaint against Defendants Equifax Information Services, LLC and Wilson Technologies, Inc. for alleged willful violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. Parker voluntarily dismissed her claims against Wilson Tech, and has moved for leave to amend her complaint. The Court held a hearing on February 7, 2017.

         BACKGROUND

         Parker tried to buy a vehicle from Suburban Cadillac Buick, an auto dealership for which Wilson Tech provides "technical and retail support, " identity-verification services, and retail and sales management. ECF 25-2 ¶¶ 8-9, 17. She received a copy of her "credit report"[1] from Equifax-a consumer reporting agency-and discovered that Wilson Tech "made two inquiries" about her credit without her permission. Id. ¶ 11-12. Wilson Tech denied that it accessed the report, and stated that the dealership verified Parker's identity using Wilson Tech's "automated system." Id. ¶ 15-16.

         Parker asserts by implication that the "automated system" utilized two Equifax products: (1) a subscription to "eIDcompare, " a tool that verifies personal information for legal and regulatory compliance, and generates alerts for possible instances of identity theft; and (2) a subscription to "[Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)] Alert Services, " which verifies consumers by automatically screening new and existing accounts, crosschecking its database when a credit report is requested, and issuing a notice that the data was verified against the database. Id. ¶¶ 30-31. The eIDcompare product, in particular, receives from its subscribers data packets that include fields for a consumer's name, phone number, social security number, date of birth, driver's license, current address, and time spent at that address. Id. ¶¶ 23-24. Parker alleges that Wilson Tech purchased the eIDcompare and OFAC Alert Services "in relation to [her] and a class of all other persons similarly situated." Id. ¶ 26.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), a court should "freely give leave" for a party to file an amended complaint "when justice so requires." District courts can, however, deny a motion for leave to amend on the basis of "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive . . . [or] futility of amendment." Prater v. Ohio Educ. Ass'n, 505 F.3d 437, 445 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). "Amending would be futile if a proposed amendment would not survive a motion to dismiss." SFS Check, LLC v. First Bank of Delaware, 774 F.3d 351, 355 (6th Cir. 2014). Accordingly, the proposed amended pleading must "raise a right to relief above the speculative level" and "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Hensley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)).

         DISCUSSION

         In the proposed amended class complaint, Parker has abandoned her claim against Wilson Tech and added a claim against Equifax under § 1681g(a), which requires a consumer reporting agency to provide to consumers clear and accurate consumer disclosures. ECF 25-2, PgID 102-03. Parker argues that the amendment accounts for two possible alternatives:

(1) Equifax provided a consumer report and disclosed the middle-man (Wilson Tech) but failed to disclose the end-user as required by 15 U.S.C. § 1681g(a)(3); or
(2) Equifax provided a false consumer disclosure to Plaintiff by disclosing that a consumer report was provided to Wilson Tech when it was not, in violation of § 1681[g](a).

ECF 31, PgID 183. Parker seeks further discovery to "ascertain exactly what information was reported and to whom, if at all, " because without the information she "cannot reasonably determine which of the two possible alternatives is at play." Id. at 184. Equifax, on the other hand, maintains the amendment is futile and unjustly prejudicial.

         I. 15 U.S.C. § 1681g(a)(3): "Reporting" Claims

         Parker's proposed amended complaint alleges that Equifax violated § 1681g(a)(3). That section requires a consumer reporting agency to "disclose to the consumer . . . [i]dentification of each person (including each end-user identified under section 1681e(e)(1) of this title) that procured a consumer report-(i) for employment purposes, during the 2-year period preceding the date on which the request is made; or (ii) for any other purpose, during the 1-year period preceding the date on which the request is made." Parker alleges that the Equifax products to which Wilson Tech subscribed, eIDcompare and OFAC Alert Services, could provide significant biographical information about consumers, and Parker further alleges the general features and capabilities of the products. See ECF 25-2 ¶ 24, ¶¶ 30-33 (listing the products' various capabilities). She claims that Wilson Tech has a customer ID from Equifax for both products, used eIDcompare to verify consumers for its subscribers, and purchased both products from Equifax "in relation to [Parker] and a class of all other persons similarly situated." Id. ΒΆΒΆ 25-29. But Parker does ...


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