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Green v. Chase Bankcard Services, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

March 25, 2017

IRIS GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
CHASE BANKCARD SERVICES, INC., EXPERIAN INFORMATION SOLUTIONS, INC., EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, and TRANS UNION, LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER

          VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court pursuant to Defendants Chase Bankcard Services, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 27), filed on January 13, 2017, and Trans Union, LLC's Motion to Dismiss or for More Definite Statement (Doc. # 28), filed on January 25, 2017. Plaintiff Iris Green filed responses on March 21, 2017. (Doc. ## 41, 42). For the reasons that follow, the Motions are granted and the Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.

         I. Background

         In December of 2015, Green realized that there was inaccurate information on her credit report, which she obtained from the consumer reporting agencies, Defendants Experian Information Solutions, Equifax Information Services, and Trans Union. (Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 7, 10). Green disputed the inaccurate reporting by Chase and requested that the three consumer reporting agencies update her credit report “to correct the inaccurate reporting by [] Chase to the credit reporting agencies.” (Id. at ¶ 11). Green “specifically disputed the account listed on [her] credit report reported by [] Chase due to mathematical errors and demanded its correction.” (Id. at ¶ 12).

         According to Green, Chase is a “furnisher of information” under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as well as “a creditor and debt collector as defined by” the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), who has “attempted to collect a consumer debt from [Green] within the last two years.” (Id. at ¶ 4). Green also alleges that Chase “communicat[ed] with [Green] knowing that [] [Green] is represented by undersigned counsel.” (Id. at ¶ 25).

         Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union received Green's dispute letter and then “upon information and belief, sent either a consumer dispute verification form and/or an electronic automated consumer dispute verification form to [] Chase.” (Id. at ¶ 13). Nevertheless, “despite having received a dispute letter from [Green] and from undersigned counsel, Defendants failed to properly conduct a reasonable investigation and make the correction to [Green's] credit profile.” (Id. at ¶ 14). As a result, Green alleges she incurred damages, including her “impaired ability to rebuild [her] credit worthiness, ” third-parties being misinformed about Green's account, her “inability to obtain and benefit from new credit, ” and the “mental and emotional pain, anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment of credit denials.” (Id. at ¶ 15).

         Green initiated this action on November 23, 2016, alleging violations of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq., by all Defendants, as well as violations of the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq., and the FCCPA, Fla. Stat. §§ 559.55 et seq., by Chase. (Doc. # 1). Equifax and Experian filed their Answers on December 30, 2016. (Doc. ## 16, 19). Chase then filed its Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. # 27), on January 13, 2017, and Trans Union followed with its Motion to Dismiss or for More Definite Statement, (Doc. # 28), on January 25, 2017. Green responded on March 21, 2017. (Doc. ## 41, 42). The Motions are now ripe for review.

         II. Legal Standard

         On a motion to dismiss, this Court accepts as true all the allegations in the complaint and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Jackson v. Bellsouth Telecomms., 372 F.3d 1250, 1262 (11th Cir. 2004). Further, this Court favors the plaintiff with all reasonable inferences from the allegations in the complaint. Stephens v. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 901 F.2d 1571, 1573 (11th Cir. 1990)(“On a motion to dismiss, the facts stated in [the] complaint and all reasonable inferences therefrom are taken as true.”). However,

[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.

Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)(internal citations omitted). Courts are not “bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). Furthermore, “[t]he scope of review must be limited to the four corners of the complaint.” St. George v. Pinellas Cty., 285 F.3d 1334, 1337 (11th Cir. 2002).

         Alternatively, when a pleading is “so vague or ambiguous that the [defendant] cannot reasonably prepare a response, ” the court can order the plaintiff to plead a more definite statement of the claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). But, “[t]he court should not do so if it would frustrate the concept of notice pleading.” Blair v. Philips Elecs. N. Am. Corp., No. 8:16-cv-3529-T-30JSS, 2017 WL 770960, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 28, 2017)(citing U.S. by Clark v. Ga. Power Co., 301 F.Supp. 538, 544 (N.D.Ga. 1969)).

         III. Analysis

         A. Chase's Motion

         1. FCRA

         In Count I, Green alleges that Chase violated numerous sections of the FCRA, including 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681s(2)(B), 1681g, and 1681i. (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 18). The Court notes that § 1681s(2)(B) is inapplicable in this action because that section governs the administrative enforcement of the FCRA by the Federal Trade Commission. 15 U.S.C. § 1681s. And, although mislabeled in the Complaint, Green quotes § 1681s-2(a), which prohibits furnishers of credit information from providing false information. “However, the statute explicitly bars private suits for violations of this provision.” Peart v. Shippie, 345 F. App'x 384, 386 (11th Cir. 2009); see also § 1681s-2(c)(1) (stating that § 1681s-2(a) does not create a private right of action).

         Still, the FCRA does create a private right of action for the enforcement of another section Green cites, § 1681s-2(b), which “requires furnishers of credit information to investigate the accuracy of said information upon receiving notice of a dispute.” Peart, 345 F. App'x at 386 (citing § 1681s-2(b)). Thus, the Court will analyze Green's claim under § 1681s-2(b).

         Section 1681s-2(b) states:

After receiving notice pursuant to section 1681i(a)(2) of this title of a dispute with regard to the completeness or accuracy of any information provided by a person to a consumer reporting agency, the person shall-
(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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