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Walker v. Trans Union, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

July 3, 2019

TOMIKA WALKER, Plaintiff,
v.
TRANS UNION, LLC, and ASHRO, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANDREW L. BRASHER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the court on Defendant Trans Union LLC's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (Doc. 14). Upon consideration, the motion is GRANTED, and the Complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Tomika Walker filed this suit against Trans Union, LLC (“Trans Union”) and Ashro, Inc. (“Ashro”) under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).

         The background of the suit is straightforward. In 2013, Plaintiff opened a revolving charge account with Ashro. (Doc. 1 ¶ 7). In 2014, Plaintiff filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Docket Number 14-30990. On July 30, 2014, Plaintiff successfully received her Chapter 7 discharge order, which included the debt from the Ashro account. Id. ¶ 9.

         At some point afterwards, Plaintiff submitted dispute correspondence to Trans Union, alleging that the Ashro account was inaccurately depicted on her credit file. Specifically, Plaintiff argued that her credit file should show that the Ashro account was “discharged” in bankruptcy. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 13-14). Instead, the file shows that Plaintiff generally filed for bankruptcy and received a discharge. It also shows that the Ashro account is “included in bankruptcy, ” that it was closed in 2014, and that is has zero balance.

         The following are depictions of the relevant portions of Plaintiff's Trans Union credit report (Doc. 14-3 & Doc. 14-4):[1]

         (Image Omitted)

         Plaintiff brought claims against Trans Union under 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681e(b) and 1681i. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 30-31, 37-38). Section 1681e(b) requires Plaintiff to plead that: (1) Trans Union published an inaccurate consumer report to a third party; (2) Trans Union failed to follow reasonable procedures to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of its reports; and (3) Trans Union's failure to follow reasonable procedures caused actual damages to the consumer. See, e.g., Ray v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 327 Fed.Appx. 819, 826 (11th Cir. 2009). Section 1681i requires Plaintiff to plead that: (1) her consumer file contains inaccurate or incomplete information; (2) Plaintiff notified Trans Union of the alleged inaccuracy; (3) the dispute is not frivolous or irrelevant; (4) Trans Union failed to respond or conduct a reasonable reinvestigation of the disputed item(s); and (5) Plaintiff sustained damages that were caused by Trans Union. See, e.g., Carvalho v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 629 F.3d 876, 891 (9th Cir. 2010). Plaintiff and Ashro jointly moved to dismiss her claims against it. (Doc. 16).

         Trans Union filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (Doc. 14). Trans Union argues that the depiction of the Ashro account in Plaintiff's credit file is not inaccurate or misleading, which is an element of both of Plaintiff's claims. In response, Plaintiff argues that the depiction is inaccurate and misleading because it does not specify that the Ashro account was discharged in her bankruptcy.

         DISCUSSION

         The court concludes that, as a matter of law, Plaintiff cannot state a claim upon which relief may be granted under either 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b) or 15 U.S.C. § 1681i. To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, “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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “[C]onclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions of facts or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal.” Oxford Asset Mgmt. v. Jaharis, 297 F.3d 1182, 1188 (11th Cir. 2002).

         It is undisputed that an essential element of each of Plaintiff's claims against Trans Union is that the Ashro account on Plaintiff's credit file be inaccurate or misleading. But Plaintiff has not, and cannot, allege facts sufficient to establish that element. This is so for at least two reasons.

         First, there is nothing false or inaccurate about Trans Union's reporting of Plaintiff's Ashro account on the face of the report. The credit file reflects that Plaintiff filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge. The Ashro account states as the “pay status” “account included in bankruptcy.” It includes as a “remark” “Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.” It lists the account balance as zero and says the account was closed in 2014. The credit file neither suggests that the account ...


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