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Rainer v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Utah

March 11, 2019

Clay Rainer, Plaintiff,
v.
Experian Information Solutions, Inc., RC Willey Home Furnishings, and American United Federal Credit Union, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DAVID SAM SENIOR, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Clay Rainer filed this Motion for Partial Summary Judgment against Defendant American United Federal Credit Union (“AUFCU”), asking the court to find as a matter of law that AUFCU is liable to Mr. Rainer under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

         In 2008, Plaintiff borrowed $4, 500 from Grantsville Federal Credit Union. AUFCU became the owner of Plaintiff's account following a merger in approximately 2016. Plaintiff modified the loan to borrow additional money, increasing the amount borrowed and owed over time. Plaintiff did not repay the loan and received a discharge through a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy on or about September 21, 2015. As explained in the Discharge of Debtor provided to AUFCU by the bankruptcy court, no attempt to collect the debt was permitted following the discharge. Grantsville and AUFCU charged the debt off, a process also referred to as “writing the debt off.” Charging off a debt indicates that the debt was not paid, but that it cannot be collected. Plaintiff alleges that AUFCU reported inaccurate information regarding the bankruptcy and charge off to Experian. He also asserts that AUFCU failed to make a reasonable investigation after learning that Plaintiff disputed the information on his Experian credit report. Plaintiff also argues that AUFCU's actions were reckless and willful violations of the FCRA.

         To state an FCRA reinvestigation claim, Mr. Rainer asserts that he must show that (1) he is a consumer; (2) a consumer report was involved; (3) AUFCU is a furnisher within the meaning of the FCRA; (4) Plaintiff suffered damages; (5) he found an inaccuracy in his credit report; (6) he notified a CRA; (7) the CRA notified AUFCU of the dispute; and (8) AUFCU failed to reasonably investigate the inaccuracies. ECF No. 33, at 3 (internal cites omitted). Mr. Rainer argues that he has satisfied seven out of the eight elements; the only remaining element is the amount of damages, which should be decided by the jury at trial. He therefore requests that the court grant summary judgment on all the elements except for damages.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Rule 56 allows the court to grant summary judgment only when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact.” The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of producing evidence in support of its claims. Kannady v. City of Kiowa, 590 F.3d 1161, 1169 (10th Cir. 2010). If the movant does so, the burden shifts to the party opposing summary judgment to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact. Id. The court must view evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. McBeth v. Himes, 598 F.3d 708, 715 (10th Cir. 2010).

         ANALYSIS

         AUFCU argues that the factual basis for Mr. Rainer's motion is simple and flawed. AUFCU disputes the following three factual bases for summary judgment, as alleged in Plaintiff's motion: (1) that AUFCU reported inaccurate information to Experian; (2) that AUFCU failed to make a reasonable investigation after learning that Plaintiff disputed the information on his Experian credit report; and (3) that AUFCU's actions rise to the level of reckless and willful violation of the FCRA.

         1. Accuracy of the information reported by AUFCU to Experian.

         This court, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to AUFCU, finds a number of genuine factual disputes regarding the accuracy of the information reported to Experian by AUFCU. Mr. Rainer's memorandum focuses mostly on what Experian included in its August 2016 report, rather than on what AUFCU reported to Experian. While these are potentially related, AUFCU has provided evidence that the contents of the August 2016 report are not always what AUFCU provided to Experian.

         a. AUFCU's report of the bankruptcy and discharge to Experian in response to verification requests

         AUFCU responded twice to Experian. The first time, in August 2016, AUFCU clearly indicated that the status of the loan was discharged by a chapter 13 bankruptcy. Declaration of Cherie Royce ¶¶ 24-28. AUFCU reported the bankruptcy to Experian, but what Experian did with that information was beyond the control of AUFCU.

         AUFCU also responded to the second, electronic request for dispute verification by investigating the issue, verifying the amounts, and following the process for electronic reporting. AUFCU again indicated that a bankruptcy had occurred along ...


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