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Harroff v. Experian Information Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 3, 2019



          Kent J. Dawson United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is Defendant Experian Information Solutions, Inc.'s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (#11). Plaintiff Susan Harroff responded and alternatively moved for Leave to File Amended Complaint (#19) to which Experian replied (#20).

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         Susan Harroff's complaint arises from an Experian credit report (“Experian Report”) dated May 8, 2018. The Experian Report showed that Harroff's Bank of America account had been “charged off” multiple times from September 2016 through December 2016, and again from January 2017 through August 2017. ECF No. 1, ¶ 9. A “charge off” consists of a credit reporting agency (“CRA”) treating an account receivable as a loss or expense because payment is unlikely. CHARGE OFF, Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).

         On or about June 21, 2018, Harroff disputed Experian's reporting of her Bank of America account in a “Dispute Letter.” That letter claimed that the credit information provided by Bank of America and featured in the Experian Report was inaccurate. ECF No. 1, ¶ 10. Specifically, Harroff disputed the multiple charge-off notations listed on the Experian Report. Harroff also requested that if Experian did not make the changes identified in the Dispute Letter that Experian include a notice on her credit report stating that the account was disputed. Id. at ¶ 21. Upon receiving this Dispute Letter, Experian timely notified Bank of America of this dispute based on its mandated statutory duty pursuant to Section 1681i(a)(2)(A). Id. at ¶ 11. Experian was then required to investigate the disputed information on Harroff's consumer report and report the results of that investigation to the consumer reporting agency if the investigation found the information to be incomplete or inaccurate. 15 U.S.C. § 168li. Experian determined that the multiple charge-off notations were accurate and decided not to remove them from Harroff's report.

         On or about July 11, 2018, Harroff received a “reinvestigation” report from Experian, Report No. 3422-7662-53 (“Experian Reinvestigation”). ECF No. 1, ¶ 14. Experian indicated that Harroff's disputed account had been researched and “Updated.” Id. Harroff believes that Experian's “reinvestigation” also qualified as a purported disclosure of all information in the consumer's file pursuant to Section 1681g. Regardless, Experian did not remove the multiple charge off notations, which all appeared in the Experian Reinvestigation. Nor did Experian update Harroff's credit report to reflect her dispute.

         B. Procedural History

         In November of 2018, Harroff brought this suit. She alleged that Experian violated multiple sections of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when it (1) failed to remove the multiple charge-offs listed on her Experian Report, (2) failed to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation of those charge-offs, (3) failed to review all relevant information Harroff provided in her Dispute Letter, and (4) failed to verify the multiple charge-off notations in connection with her credit reports. Harroff alleges that Experian's continued reporting of the multiple charge off notations was willful and inaccurate, entitling her to statutory damages under 15 U.S.C. § 1681n. Finally, Harroff claims that she suffered actual damages, including fear of credit denials, transportation costs, lost time, stress, and aggravation. See 15 U.S.C. § 1681o.

         On December 12, 2018, Experian moved for Judgment on the Pleadings (#11) and to Stay Discovery (#12). Harroff objected to Experian's motion and claims that she has adequately pleaded facts to support each alleged FCRA violation. Alternatively, Harroff requests leave to amend her complaint “in the event the Court grants any part of Experian's Motion.” (#19 at 1). The parties' motions are fully briefed, and the Court now turns to their merits.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         After the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is “functionally identical” to a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 1989). Judgment on the pleadings is proper when, taking all the allegations in the non-moving party's pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 486 F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th Cir. 2009). However, the court is not required to accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations if those conclusions cannot reasonably be drawn from the facts alleged. See Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir. 1994).

         A properly pled complaint must provide “[a] short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Thus, to survive a motion for judgment on the ...

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