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Bey v. American Honda Financial Services Corp.

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

October 26, 2017

ALI TAJ BEY, Plaintiff,


          Virginia M. Hernandez Covington, Judge

         This matter comes before the Court upon consideration of Defendant Experian Information Solutions, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss the Fourth Amended Complaint (Doc. # 48) and Defendant Equifax Information Services LLC's Motion to Dismiss the Fourth Amended Complaint (Doc. # 49), both filed on September 5, 2017. Pro se Plaintiff Ali Taj Bey filed a “Motion to Strike, Dismiss Defendants, Defenses and Counterclaims for Failure to State a Claim, Demand for Judgment on the Pleadings” on October 12, 2017, which the Court also construes as Bey's response in opposition to Defendants' Motions. (Doc. # 62). Equifax, Experian, and Defendant Trans Union, LLC responded to Bey's Motion. (Doc. # 63). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motions are granted and Bey's Motion is denied.

         I. Background

         Bey initiated this action on March 30, 2017, by filing his Complaint against Defendant American Honda Financial Services Corporation. (Doc. # 1). Bey then filed an Amended Complaint on April 25, 2017, which the Court dismissed on April 27, 2017. (Doc. ## 5, 8). Bey then filed a Second Amended Complaint, asserting various claims including violation of the National Bank Act and breach of contract against American Honda, based on American Honda's failure to acknowledge that Bey paid off his debt. (Doc. # 18). The Court dismissed the Second Amended Complaint on May 25, 2017, noting that the National Bank Act did not create a private cause of action and directing Bey to clarify the citizenships of the parties involved. (Doc. # 25).

         Then, on July 3, 2017, Bey filed his Third Amended Complaint asserting Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq., claims against American Honda Finance Corp. and three other Defendants, Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian. (Doc. # 28). After Equifax filed a motion to dismiss, Bey filed his Fourth Amended Complaint on August 18, 2017, again alleging FCRA claims against American Honda, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. (Doc. # 43).

         In the Fourth Amended Complaint, Bey alleges he “made written requests” to American Honda, his creditor, “to verify the information they were reporting as correct.” (Id. at 8). But American Honda “failed to respond to [his] FCRA dispute” and failed “to promptly delete this information and cease reporting to all (3) major consumer reporting agencies.” (Id.). Additionally, he “generally dispute[d] any information on my report simultaneously with all 3 major credit reporting agencies, Experian [], Equifax [], [and Trans Union], to assure the completeness and accuracy of all reports.” (Id. at 3). “All allegations made with respect to defendants range from failure to make required disclosures with all notices, which should include the summary of consumer rights, for failure to remove disputed accounts or provide certifications from furnishers, or delete incomplete, inaccurate or unverified information within 30 days of the request.” (Id.).

         At the time of this Order, American Honda Finance Corp. has been dismissed as a party and Trans Union has filed its Answer. (Doc. ## 46; 59). Equifax and Experian moved for dismissal of the Fourth Amended Complaint as to the claims against them on September 5, 2017. (Doc. ## 48, 49). Bey filed his “Motion to Strike, Dismiss Defendants, Defenses and Counterclaims for Failure to State a Claim, Demand for Judgment on the Pleadings” on October 12, 2017, which the Court construes as both a motion to strike Defendants' pleadings and Bey's response to Defendants' Motions to Dismiss. (Doc. # 62). Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union responded to Bey's Motion on October 26, 2017. (Doc. # 63).

         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.”). But, [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).

         The Court construes pro se pleadings liberally and holds them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th Cir. 2003). But, “a pro se litigant is still required to conform to procedural rules, and a district judge is not required to rewrite a deficient pleading.” McFarlin v. Douglas Cty., 587 F. App'x 593, 595 (11th Cir. 2014).

         III. Analysis

         Bey alleges Equifax and Experian each violated two sections of the FCRA: 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681g and 1681i.

         A. Claims against Equifax

         Equifax argues the FCRA claims against it should be dismissed because Bey is attempting to collaterally attack the validity of the debt he owes American Honda, and, furthermore, Bey has failed to state claims under the FCRA. (Doc. # 29 at 3). The Court agrees. The Fourth Amended Complaint's vague allegations are insufficient to state a claim under the FCRA. The Court will address each count separately.

         1. Count II

         In Count II, labelled “Plaintiff Alleges Equifax Information Solutions Failed to Make Required Disclosures and Enclose Consumers' Summary of Rights, ” Bey appears to assert claims under both § 1681g and § 1681i.

         Section 1681g sets out the procedures that consumer reporting agencies must follow when they receive a request for information from a consumer. 15 U.S.C. § 1681g(a) (“Every consumer reporting agency shall, upon request, . . . clearly and accurately disclose to the consumer: (1) All information in the consumer's file at the time of the request . . . (2) The sources of the information . . .”). Additionally, “[a] consumer reporting agency shall provide to a consumer, with each written disclosure by the agency to the consumer under this section - (A) the summary of rights prepared by the Bureau under paragraph (1) . . . .” 15 U.S.C. § 1681g(c)(2).

         According to Bey, “[o]n January 24, 2017 & May 16, 2017, Equifax [] failed to make the required disclosures and enclose consumers' summary of rights.” (Doc. # 43 at 10). Equifax argues this allegation is insufficient to state a claim under § 1681g(a) because Bey “does not set forth any details regarding a request for a disclosure or the sources of information he claims were not disclosed to him.” (Doc. # 49 at 7). Equifax also complains that Bey “has not alleged any actual damages as a result of” the purported § 1681g(a) violation, which would be required to state a claim for negligent noncompliance. (Id.); see Taylor v. Screening Reports, Inc., 294 F.R.D. 680, 686 (N.D.Ga. 2013)(“Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claim that SRI negligently violated § 1681g. To prove a case of negligent noncompliance, Plaintiff must produce some evidence of actual damages caused by the violation.”).

         The Court agrees. Although Bey provides two dates, he does not elaborate on the content of his requests for disclosure. Bey does not elaborate on whether Equifax failed to disclose all information in his file and all sources of information or whether it partially disclosed some information and sources. And Bey does not explain whether no summary of consumer rights was included, or whether an insufficient summary was included. If the summary of rights was deficient, Bey does not explain how. Therefore, Bey has ...

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