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LIN v. UNIVERSAL CARD SERVICES CORPORATION

November 26, 2002

HUA LIN, PLAINTIFF,
V.
UNIVERSAL CARD SERVICES CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Ware, United States District Judge.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT CITIBANK'S MOTION TO DISMISS

I. INTRODUCTION

This is a consumer credit reporting case which presents the issue of whether federal law preempts state law regarding the fights and obligations of furnishers of consumer credit information. Defendant Citibank*fn1("Citibank") filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff Hua Lin's ("Lin") state law claims for violations of the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act ("CCRAA")*fn2 §§ 1785.25(a)-(c)*fn3 on the ground that the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA")*fn4, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., preempts such claims and bars any private right of action under the state statute.*fn5 The Court found it appropriate to determine Citibank's motion based on the papers without oral argument pursuant to Civil L.R. 7-1(b).

Lin concedes that his third and fourth claims for relief, filed pursuant to CCRAA §§ 1785.25(b)-(c), are preempted by FCRA. Therefore, the Court will only address Lin's second claim for relief, filed pursuant to CCRAA § 1785.25(a). For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that Lin's second claim is not preempted by FCRA, but also finds that CCRAA § 1785.25(a) does not permit a consumer to bring a private right of action against a furnisher of consumer credit information. Accordingly, the Court grants Citibank's motion to dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND

On July 19, 2002, Lin filed a lawsuit against Citibank in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Citibank properly removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) and 1331. Lin's complaint states that Citibank allegedly furnished adverse credit information about him to a credit reporting agency regarding a credit card account which Lin contends he never opened with Citibank.*fn6 Lin alleges that Citibank inaccurately reported that he owned the account and that the account was delinquent without first providing him with a notice of the delinquent account. When Lin attempted to correct these errors with Citibank, he alleges that Citibank failed to correct the inaccuracies. Thereafter, Lin contacted the credit reporting agency directly and asked it to investigate the dispute.

When the credit reporting agency called Citibank to verify the account information, Lin alleges that Citibank did not convey the truth about his credit information, but instead affirmed that the delinquent account belonged to Lin. Based on the conduct of Citibank, Lin contends that Citibank violated the following statutes: CCRAA §§ 1785.26, 1785.25(a)-(c),*fn7 and FCRA 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b)*fn8. Citibank does not contend that Lin's claim filed pursuant to CCRAA § 1785.26, nor his claim filed pursuant to FCRA 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b), are preempted by federal law. Rather, Citibank seeks to dismiss only Lin's claims based upon CCRAA §§ 1785.25(a)-(c) on the ground that the FCRA preempts these state law claims.

III. LEGAL STANDARDS

Motions to dismiss are viewed with disfavor and are rarely granted. Hall v. City of Santa Barbara, 833 F.2d 1270, 1274 (9th Cir. 1986); United States v. City of Redwood City, 640 F.2d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 1981). A claim may be dismissed as a matter of law for one of two reasons: "(1) lack of a cognizable legal theory or (2) insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory." Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds. Co., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984).

"A complaint cannot be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Moore v. City of Costa Mesa, 886 F.2d 260, 262 (9th Cir. 1989). "[A] complaint should not be dismissed if it states a claim under any legal theory, even if the plaintiff erroneously relies on a different legal theory." Haddock v. Board of Dental Examiners, 777 F.2d 462, 464 (9th Cir. 1985).

"All material allegations in the complaint are to be taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Sanders v. Kennedy, 794 F.2d 478, 481 (9th Cir. 1986); NL Indus., Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986). However, the Court will not accept wholly conclusory allegations. Western Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1031 (1981); Kennedy v. H & M Landing, Inc., 529 F.2d 987, 989 (9th Cir. 1976).

IV. DISCUSSION

A determination of Citibank's motion depends on two issues: (1) whether the FCRA completely preempts the CCRAA in matters relating to the responsibilities of furnishers of consumer credit information; and, (2) whether, absent complete preemption, the CCRAA ยง 1785.25(a) specifically confers upon consumers a ...


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