United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is the Plaintiff Michael Williams' motion to
reconsider and motion to stay order to compel disclosure.
(Doc. 71). Previously, the court granted Defendants'
motion to compel the disclosure of the terms of a settlement
reached with the credit reporting agencies who were
originally defendants in this case. The court reached its
decision because it found that while the FCRA does not
contain a right to offset or contribution, the
one-satisfaction rule still applies, and the settlement terms
would be relevant to determining whether any judgment against
the Defendants should be subject to a credit. Mr. Williams,
as well as the settling credit reporting agencies, now ask
the court to reconsider that decision. For the reasons
discussed below, the court DENIES the motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
“may relieve a party . . . from a[n] . . . order . . .
for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence,
surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence
that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been
discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);
(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic),
misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party; (4)
the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied,
released, or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment
that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it
prospectively is no longer equitable; or (6) any other reason
that justifies relief.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 60(b).
Single, Indivisible Injury
Williams argues that the one-satisfaction rule does not apply
to this case because there has not been a single, indivisible
harm. In support of this argument, Mr. Williams cites to his
deposition testimony where talked about the effect a letter
sent from the Defendants, and not the CRAs, had on him.
Further, Mr. Williams argues his deposition shows that he
suffered distinct injuries.
Williams is correct that each violation of the FCRA is a
separate violation. But regardless of how many
violations of the FCRA occurred, Mr. Williams is not
entitled to recover for the same injury, even if two
different violations could be said to have caused that
injury. Undoubtedly, Mr. Williams' claims against the
CRAs and his claims against the remaining Defendants stem
from separate conduct. But the relevant inquiry for purposes
of the one-satisfaction rule is not whether the
conduct is the distinct but whether the
injury is distinct.
Williams points to his deposition as evidence he suffered
distinct injuries from the CRAs and LVNV/Resurgent's
Q. I'm putting LVNV aside for just a moment. But when you
got the Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion results, did that
specifically trigger these physical and mental symptoms you
are talking about?
A. Yes. Yes.
(Doc. 78-2 at 80).
is key. What specific physical and mental symptoms was Mr.
Williams' counsel referring to? A little over a page in
the transcript prior, Mr. Williams' counsel asked how a
letter from LVNV/Resurgent made Mr. Williams feel. He
responded: “it made me sick . . . I couldn't sleep
. . . I had trouble eating . . . [and] performing my job at
work.” (Doc. 78-2 at 80). The transcript contains no
other discussion of “physical and mental
symptoms” between this answer and Mr. Williams'
counsel's question about whether the CRA's conduct
triggered Mr. Williams' symptoms. Mr. Williams'
testimony establishes that the CRA's conduct and
LVNV/Resurgent's conduct caused the same physical and
mental symptoms-the same injury. Further, earlier in
his deposition, Mr. Williams admitted that he could not
discern the amount of damage inflicted by each defendant.
When asked how he could separate the emotional distress out
to what was caused by each defendant, Mr. Williams responded,
“I don't have a way to distinguish that.”
Id. at 62.
v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 510 F.3d 495 (4th Cir.
2007), cited by Mr. Williams, is not to the contrary.
Sloane does not stand for the proposition that the
one satisfaction rule does not apply in the FCRA context.
See Sloane, 510 F.3d at 501 (“But, in the
case at hand, we cannot find, as a matter of law, that
Suzanne has suffered from a ‘single, indivisible
harm' that has already been redressed by other
parties.”) (emphasis added). In a footnote, the Fourth
Circuit did say that “[a]rguably, the ‘one
satisfaction rule' does not even apply to FCRA
claims.” Id. at 501 n.2. But such speculative
dicta is not persuasive to the court, especially given the
Eleventh Circuit's reasoning that the one-satisfaction
rule applies to federal statutory ...