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Tillman v. Equifax Information Services, LLC

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

January 16, 2020

RISHANA TILLMAN, Plaintiff
v.
EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, MICHIGAN FIRST CREDIT UNION, and SECURITY AUTO LOANS, INC., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS BY DEFENDANT MICHIGAN FIRST CREDIT UNION

          DAVID M. LAWSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant Michigan First Credit Union has moved to dismiss a complaint brought by plaintiff Rishana Tillman under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. The Credit Union argues that the complaint fails to make out a cause of action under that statute and therefore must be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The motion is fully briefed and oral argument will not aid in its disposition. Therefore, the motion will be decided on the briefs. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2). Because the complaint states facts supporting a plausible claim under the FCRA, the motion will be denied.

         I.

         Because this is a motion to dismiss, the facts recited below are stated as they are alleged in the plaintiff's complaint.

         Rishana Tillman resides in Wayne County, Michigan. She had an account with Michigan First Credit Union, but her complaint alleges that it was “charged off and closed, ” and that she no longer has any payment obligation on the account. Compl. ¶ 8. Nevertheless, the Credit Union has continued to report the account to Equifax with a $442 monthly payment due. The plaintiff contends that the account should be reported with a monthly payment of $0 since there is no balance or payment obligation.

         In June 2019, Tillman sent a dispute letter to Equifax reporting the erroneous trade line, and the letter was forwarded to the Credit Union. However, the Credit Union responded that its reporting was accurate and refused to correct the report.

         Tillman then filed her lawsuit in state court in August 2019. Counts I and II of the complaint plead negligent and willful violations of the FCRA by the Credit Union due to its alleged failure properly to investigate the dispute and correct its reporting. The Credit Union removed it to this Court on October 1, 2019 and filed its motion to dismiss two days later.

         The defendant argues that the plaintiff (1) has not sufficiently alleged that the trade line is “misleading, ” because in her complaint she does not identify any creditor that actually was misled by the reported information, (2) does not plead any specific facts to identify what relevant information the defendant “failed to review” during its allegedly deficient investigation, and (3) does not plead any specific facts to support the vague allegation that she suffered emotional damages in the form of “mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment.”

         II.

         “To 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)). A “claim is facially plausible when a plaintiff ‘pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Matthew N. Fulton, DDS, P.C. v. Enclarity, Inc., 907 F.3d 948, 951-52 (6th Cir. 2018) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). When reviewing the motion, the Court “must ‘construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff[] [and] accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.'” Id. at 951 (quoting Hill v. Snyder, 878 F.3d 193, 203 (6th Cir. 2017)). Consideration of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is confined to the pleadings. Jones v. City of Cincinnati, 521 F.3d 555, 562 (6th Cir. 2008). Assessment of the facial sufficiency of the complaint ordinarily must be undertaken without resort to matters outside the pleadings. Wysocki v. Int'l Bus. Mach. Corp., 607 F.3d 1102, 1104 (6th Cir. 2010).

         “Congress enacted [the Fair Credit Reporting act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., ] ¶ 1970 to ensure fair and accurate credit reporting, promote efficiency in the banking system, and protect consumer privacy.” Pittman v. Experian Info. Sols., Inc., 901 F.3d 619, 628 (6th Cir. 2018). The FCRA requires consumer credit reporting agencies to ‘follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of' consumer credit reports.” Buchholz v. Meyer Njus Tanick, PA, No. 18-2261, ____ F.3d ____, 2020 WL 35431, at *3 (6th Cir. Jan. 3, 2020) (quoting 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b)). “The statute provides consumers with a cause of action if a consumer reporting agency violates their statutorily created procedural rights.” Ibid. “Under the FCRA, those who furnish information to consumer reporting agencies have two obligations: (1) to provide accurate information; and (2) to undertake an investigation upon receipt of a notice of dispute regarding credit information that is furnished.” Scott v. First Southern National Bank, 936 F.3d 509, 517 (6th Cir. 2019) (quotations omitted).

         “The FCRA creates a private right of action for consumers to enforce the requirement under § 1681s-2(b) that furnishers of information investigate upon receiving notice of a dispute, but not the requirement under § 1681s-2(a) that furnishers of information initially provide accurate information to consumer reporting agencies.” Ibid. Thus, “consumers must file a dispute with a consumer reporting agency to trigger the furnisher's duty to investigate under § 1681s-2(b).” Ibid. “After receiving notice of a dispute with regard to the completeness or accuracy of any information provided by a person to a consumer reporting agency, ” the reporting entity must:

(A) conduct an investigation with respect to the disputed information;
(B) review all relevant information provided by the consumer reporting agency pursuant to section ...

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