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Cameron v. Greater New Orleans Federal Credit Union

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 19, 2017

JAMES CAMERON
v.
GREATER NEW ORLEANS FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, et al. Applies To 16-12676

         SECTION: “H” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Experian Information Solutions, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 53). For the following reasons, this Motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff James Cameron brings this action pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). Specifically, he alleges that Defendant Greater New Orleans Federal Credit Union (“GNO”) provided, and that Defendant Experian Information Solutions, Inc. (“Experian”) maintained, inaccurate and false information on his credit report relative to a $14, 284 trade in violation of the FCRA. He alleges that he suffered damages as a result of Defendants' actions, including mental and emotional distress, denial of credit, and receiving credit with a higher interest rate. Plaintiff has resolved his claims against Defendant GNO. His claims against Experian are the subject of the instant Motion for Summary Judgment.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”[1] A genuine issue of fact exists only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”[2]

         In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court views facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor.[3] “If the moving party meets the initial burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence or designate specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial.”[4] Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case.”[5] “In response to a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must identify specific evidence in the record and articulate the manner in which that evidence supports that party's claim, and such evidence must be sufficient to sustain a finding in favor of the non-movant on all issues as to which the non movant would bear the burden of proof at trial.”[6] “We do not . . . in the absence of any proof, assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts.”[7] Additionally, “[t]he mere argued existence of a factual dispute will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion.”[8]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff asserts 4 claims against Defendant Experian: (1) failure to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy when preparing consumer reports about him, in violation of 15 U.S.C. 1681e(b); (2) failure to provide all relevant information to the data furnisher in connection with its reinvestigation of his dispute and failure to consider all relevant information regarding his dispute in, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a)(2); (3) failure to maintain reasonable procedures designed to prevent the reappearance of previously deleted material in his credit file, in violation in 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a)(5); and (4) failure to provide a description of its reinvestigation procedure at his request, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a)(7). Defendant moves for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff has submitted insufficient evidence to support these claims. Defendant also argues that Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed because he has suffered no compensable damages. Because the Court finds the damages issue dispositive of the matter, it will address that issue first. It will then consider the sufficiency of the evidence relative to each of Plaintiff's claims.

         I. Damages

         The provisions of the FCRA giving rise to civil liability are codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681n and 1681o. These provisions provide for three types of damages depending upon whether the violation in question was willful or negligent. If a Plaintiff can prove a willful violation, he is entitled to either actual or statutory damages and, at the court's discretion, punitive damages.[9]If, however, the allege violation is merely negligent, a plaintiff is only entitled to actual damages.[10]

         A. Plaintiff Has Submitted No Evidence of a Willful Violation

         The Court has reviewed the evidence submitted by the parties and finds that no reasonable fact finder could find the alleged violations to be willful. Where a violation has been found to be willful, “a consumer reporting agency has typically misrepresented or concealed some or all of a credit report from a consumer.”[11] “To be willful, such misrepresentations must be the result of either a knowing violation or reckless disregard of the law.”[12] Though Plaintiff recites the relevant law regarding willful violations, he cites no evidence that Defendant committed either a knowing violation or acted in reckless disregard of controlling law. “The record does not reveal . . . any intention to thwart consciously [Plaintiff's] right to have inaccurate information removed promptly from his report.”[13] At most, the evidence supports a finding that Defendant acted slowly in removing a disputed item from Plaintiff's credit report. Though this action might prove negligent, it does not support a finding of willfulness. Accordingly, Plaintiffs § 1681n claims must be dismissed.

         B. Plaintiff Has Submitted No Evidence of Actual Damages Caused by Experian

         Having found the Plaintiff has provided no evidence of willfulness, Plaintiff's only remaining claim is for negligence under § 1681o. As noted above, to prevail on his claims arising under § 1681o, Plaintiff must demonstrate actual damages. Plaintiff's alleged damages fall into two broad categories: (1) denial of credit or receipt of credit at a higher interest rate, and (2) emotional distress damages. Defendant argues that Plaintiff has ...


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