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Steinmetz v. General Electric Co.

July 13, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jeffrey T. Miller United States District Judge


Pending before the court is a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint ("SAC," Doc. No. 48) by Defendant Citibank (South Dakota), N.A., erroneously sued as Citigroup, Inc. ("Citibank"). ("Mot.," Doc. No. 51.) The court finds the matter suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Civ.L.R. 7.1(d). Based on a review of the parties' submissions and the applicable authorities, the court hereby GRANTS Citibank's motion to dismiss.


According to the allegations set forth in the SAC, an "Exxonmobil Credit Card account" (the "Account") credit card was issued to Plaintiff by GE Money Bank in January 2006. (SAC ¶¶ 14-15.) Plaintiff petitioned for bankruptcy in April 2006 but neither included the Account in the proceedings nor informed GE Money Bank about the bankruptcy. (SAC ¶ 23.) On or about October 10, 2006, after the bankruptcy had been discharged, Plaintiff allegedly was informed by a "customer service representative" the Account had been closed because Plaintiff had filed for bankruptcy. (SAC ¶¶ 27, 32.) Plaintiff subsequently learned that, sometime prior to March 2007, the Account status was reported by major credit reporting agencies ("CRAs") (i.e. TransUnion and Equifax) as having been included in Plaintiff's Chapter 7 bankruptcy. (SAC ¶¶ 37, 80.) In reviewing his credit reports between March 30, 2007 and late 2007, Plaintiff noticed additional minor changes to the reporting of the Account. (SAC ¶¶ 40, 42.) Between November 2007 and January 2008, Plaintiff disputed the allegedly inaccurate reporting on various occasions through the CRAs. (SAC ¶¶ 41-47.) Responses from Trans Union and Equifax indicated their investigations warranted no changes to the reporting status of Plaintiff's ExxonMobil account. (SAC ¶¶ 46-47.)

With respect to movant Citibank, Plaintiff alleges that "[a]bout January 2008, defendant Exxonmobil Oil Corporation changed its bank partner and proxy credit issuer in Exxonmobil Credit Card. Presumably, former partner GE Money Bank disclosed customer information to new partner Citibank (South Dakota), N.A., and possibly vice versa...." (SAC ¶ 45.) Plaintiff alleges Citibank "took over the management of said account, and assumed full responsibility for information that was furnished, withheld, modified, deleted, accessed, or otherwise available to CRAs with regard to said account." (SAC ¶ 45.) Plaintiff contends "discoverable furnishers of information" erroneously reported the account as "included in bankruptcy," or subject to "Chapter 7 bankruptcy" and that beginning in January 2008, Citibank "continued to furnish wildly inaccurate information" regarding the account. (SAC ¶¶ 84, 136.) Finally, Plaintiff suggests the "discoverable furnishers of information" failed to investigate the disputed information when notified of the dispute by the CRAs. (SAC ¶ 111.)

In his SAC, Plaintiff recites a total of 737 counts against "unassociated but discoverable furnishers of information," asserting violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. ("FCRA"), the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. ("FDCPA"), the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1785 et seq. ("CCRAA"), and the California Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1788 et seq. ("Rosenthal Act"), and claims for defamation "by language libelous on its face." (FAC at 32-33.)


A. Legal Standards

Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal is proper only in "extraordinary" cases. U.S. v. Redwood City, 640 F.2d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 1981). In evaluating a 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept the complaint's allegations as true and construe them in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. See, e.g., Concha v. London, 62 F.3d 1493, 1500 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. dismissed, 116 S.Ct. 1710 (1996). However, the complaint's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level...."

Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) (allegations must provide "plausible grounds to infer" that plaintiff is entitled to relief). The court should grant 12(b)(6) relief where the complaint lacks either a "cognizable legal theory" or facts sufficient to support a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In testing the complaint's legal adequacy, the court may consider material properly submitted as part of the complaint, including exhibits attached thereto, or material subject to judicial notice. Swartz v. KPMG LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 763 (9th Cir. 2007).

Where a plaintiff sues multiple defendants and sets forth multiple causes of action, he "must allege the basis of his claim against each defendant to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), which requires a short and plain statement of the claim to put defendants on sufficient notice of the allegations against them." Gauvin v. Trombatore, 682 F.Supp. 1067, 1071 (N.D.Cal. 1988). Even absent other pleading deficiencies, such "confusion of which claims apply to which defendants would require that the complaint be dismissed with leave to file an amended complaint." Gen-Probe, Inc. v. Amoco Corp., 926 F.Supp. 948, 961 (S.D.Cal. 1996)(citing Gauvin, 682 F.Supp. at 1071.) "Specific identification of the parties to the activities alleged is enable the defendant[s] to plead intelligently." Van Dyke Ford, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 399 F.Supp. 277, 284 (E.D.Wis. 1975).

At the same time, the court has a duty to liberally construe a pro se litigant's pleadings. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A "pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 127 (2007) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d 886, 889 (9th Cir. 2008). "[The] court, however, will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on plaintiff's behalf." Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170,1173-74 (10th Cir.1997) (quotations and citations omitted).

B. Analysis

1. Sufficiency of the Pleadings ...

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