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Dyson v. Equifax, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

March 27, 2017

AQUANETTA DYSON, Plaintiff,
v.
EQUIFAX, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT EQUIFAX'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND [RE: ECF 26]

          BETH LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Aquanetta Dyson sues Equifax, Inc. (“Equifax”) for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (“CCRAA”), California Civil Code § 1785.25(a). Equifax moves for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). For reasons discussed below, the motion is GRANTED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection on October 30, 2014, and her plan was confirmed on February 23, 2015. Compl. ¶ 5, ECF 1. On February 21, 2016, Plaintiff “ordered a three bureau report from Experian Information Solutions, Inc. to ensure proper reporting by Plaintiff's creditors.” Id. ¶ 6. She alleges that this report (“February 2016 Credit Report”) included “several tradelines all reporting misleading and inaccurate account information”. Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff provides specifics as to only one account, alleging that Nationstar Mortgage, LLC (“Nationstar”) reported her account as “charged off, in collection, with a balance in the amount of $45, 608.00, and a past due balance in the amount of $45, 608.00.” Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiff does not allege how Nationstar's reporting was inaccurate. See id.

         Plaintiff disputed the inaccurate tradelines via certified mail sent to three different credit reporting agencies (“CRAs”), Equifax[2], Experian Information Solutions, Inc., and TransUnion, LLC. Id. ¶ 9. Each CRA received Plaintiff's dispute letter and in turn notified the entities that had furnished the disputed information (“furnishers”). Id. ¶ 10.

         Plaintiff ordered a second three bureau report from Experian Information Solutions, Inc. on May 14, 2016 (“May 2016 Credit Report”). Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff alleges that Equifax “failed to perform its own reasonable investigation and failed to correct the inaccuracies and failed to note that Plaintiff disputed the information.” Id. ¶ 12.

         Plaintiff filed this action on June 15, 2016, asserting violations of the FCRA and CCRAA against Equifax and Nationstar. See Compl., ECF 1. Nationstar was dismissed on August 11, 2016. Equifax now moves for judgement on the pleadings.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Rule 12(c)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” “Rule 12(c) is functionally identical to Rule 12(b)(6), ” and the same legal standard applies to determine whether a claim has been stated under either motion. Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1055 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). When determining whether a claim has been stated, the Court accepts as true all well-pled factual allegations and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Reese v. BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., 643 F.3d 681, 690 (9th Cir. 2011). However, the Court need not “accept as true allegations that contradict matters properly subject to judicial notice” or “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when it “allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Complaint contains two claims, one for violation of the FCRA (Claim 1) and the other for violation of the CCRAA (Claim 2). Although the label of the CCRAA claim indicates that it is asserted against “Defendants, ” it is clear from the body of the Complaint that the CCRAA claim is not asserted against Equifax. Compl. ¶¶ 24-32. Accordingly, this order addresses only the FCRA claim.

         Plaintiff's FCRA claim against Equifax is subheaded “Failure to Reinvestigate Disputed Information.” Id. ¶¶ 17-18. Plaintiff alleges that after she “disputed the accounts mentioned above” - which the Court takes to mean the “several tradelines all reporting misleading and inaccurate account information” referenced earlier in the Complaint - Equifax was required to conduct a reasonable investigation and to delete any information that was not accurate. Id. ¶¶ 7, 19. Plaintiff claims that “Defendants were required to send all relevant information to the furnishers which they did not do.” Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff alleges generally that Equifax “failed to correct the misleading and or inaccurate statements.” Id.

         Equifax moves for judgment on the pleadings on three grounds. First, Equifax points out that Plaintiff's FCRA claim against it is asserted under 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b), which is applicable to furnishers, and not under 15 U.S.C. § 1681i, which is applicable to CRAs. Second, Equifax asserts that Plaintiff has not alleged facts showing that Equifax's credit reporting was ...


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