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Finley v. Capital one

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 14, 2017

Latonya R. Finley, Plaintiff,
Capital One, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff LaTonya R. Finley brings the instant action against defendant Capital One Bank (USA), N.A.[1] Plaintiff's first count is based upon the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.[2] Plaintiff alleges generally that Capital One, as a furnisher of information to credit reporting agencies (“CRAs”), refused to correct “inaccurate, incomplete[, ] or unverifiable information.” (Dkt. No. 1, “Complaint, ” 18.) Plaintiff also contends that Capital One “failed to conduct a proper . . . reinvestigation.” (Id. ¶ 36.) Plaintiffs second through fourth counts are based on state-law claims of invasion of privacy and negligence.

         Capital One now moves for judgment on the pleadings. Having carefully considered the papers and for the reasons discussed below, the Court concludes that plaintiff has failed to state a claim under the FCRA. The Court further holds that plaintiff's state law claims are preempted by the FCRA. Accordingly, the Court Grants Capital One's motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiff's state law claims are therefore Dismissed With Prejudice. Plaintiff's FCRA claim, however, is Dismissed Without Prejudice. Plaintiff may re-file her complaint if she can satisfy the FCRA's pleading requirements as outlined herein.

         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff's claims arise from alleged violations of the FCRA and state law, which purportedly undermined plaintiff's “credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity character[, ] and general reputation.” Plaintiff avers that prior to November 2014, she spent time contacting “the credit bureau and . . . creditors” to “remove[] the inaccurate information” from her credit file. (Complaint ¶¶ 9-11.) By November 2014, plaintiff's credit scores among the three CRAs- Equifax, Transunion, and Experian-were 612, 606, and 635, respectively. (Id. ¶ 11.) But within one year, plaintiff's credit scores dropped between 500 and 593, despite “no new purchases, no lates [sic] and [a] recently paid off vehicle.” (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff also claims that “her file was imported with another debtor with a similar name, her daughter LaToya R. Finley.” (Id. ¶ 14.) This is the extent of the substantive factual allegations.

         With respect to plaintiff's FCRA claim, plaintiff states that she notified the CRAs “of a dispute[] on . . . [her] Capital One account's completeness and/or accuracy . . . .” (Id. ¶ 33.) Additionally, plaintiff asserts that Capital One “refuse[d] to correct inaccurate, incomplete[, ] or unverifiable information.”[3] (Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff alleges further that Capital One has “taken illegal . . . actions . . . to collect the alleged debt against [p]laintiff” and has “failed to properly investigate the account in response to the disputes made by [p]laintiff.” (Id. ¶¶ 20-21, 36.) Finally, plaintiff contends that Capitol One acted “maliciously, willfully, recklessly, wantonly[, ] and/or negligently . . . .” (Id. ¶¶ 23, 37.)

         Plaintiff also brings three separate state-law claims, namely invasion of privacy; negligent, wanton, and/or intentional hiring and supervision of incompetent employees; and negligent, wanton, and intentional conduct. First, plaintiff asserts that Capitol One “interfered . . . with the . . . private . . . affairs of the [p]laintiff . . . by repeatedly and unlawfully attempting to collect a debt and/or” falsely reporting plaintiff's credit. (Id. ¶ 42.) Second, plaintiff contends that Capital One knowingly permitted incompetent employees to engage in false credit reporting. (Id. ¶¶ 50-53.) Finally, plaintiff claims that Capital One breached the duty of care it owed to plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 55- 67.)

         II. Legal Standard

         The standard applied to a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is “substantially identical” to the standard applied to a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Chavez v. United States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2012). “[U]nder both rules, ‘a court must determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint, taken as true, entitle the plaintiff to a legal remedy.'” Id. (quoting Brooks v. Dunlop Mfg. Inc., No. C 10-04341 CRB, 2011 WL 6140912, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 9, 2011)). “If the complaint fails to articulate a legally sufficient claim, the complaint should be dismissed or judgment granted on the pleadings.” Brooks, 2011 WL 614912 at *3. Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate “when there is no issue of material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Heliotrope Gen., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 189 F.3d 971, 979 (9th Cir. 1999)).

         If a motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted, a “court should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Still, leave to amend is not automatic and is instead “within the Court's discretion.” Guidiville Rancheria of California v. United States, No. 12-CV-1326 YGR, 2014 WL 3749227, at *3 (N.D. Cal. July 24, 2014) (citing In re W. States Wholesale Nat. Gas Antitrust Litig., 715 F.3d 716, 739 (9th Cir. 2013)). “As with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court granting judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) should grant leave to amend even if no request for leave to amend has been made, unless it is clear that amendment would be futile.” Kelly Moore Paint Co., Inc. v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, No. 14-CV-01797-MEJ, 2014 WL 2119996, at *3 (N.D. Cal. May 21, 2014) (citing Pac. W. Grp., Inc. v. Real Time Sols., Inc., 321 F.App'x 566, 569 (9th Cir. 2008)).

         III. Discussion

         A. Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim Under the FCRA

         Capital One asserts that plaintiff fails to state a claim under the FCRA. To state such a claim against a “furnisher”-i.e., Capital One-a plaintiff must plead, with enough facts, that (1) the furnisher provided inaccurate information to a CRA; (2) a CRA notified the furnisher of the dispute; and (3) the furnisher failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into the accuracy of the disputed information.[4] Hernandez v. Wells Fargo Home Mortg., No. 2:14-CV-1500 JCM VCF, 2015 WL 1204985, at *2 (D. Nev. Mar. 16, 2015) (citing Middleton v. Plus Four, Inc., No. 2:13-CV-01421-GMN-GW, 2014 WL 910351, at *3 (D. Nev. Mar. 7, 2014)); see also Gorman v. Wolpoff & Abramson, LLP, 584 F.3d 1147, 1154-61 (9th Cir. 2009). Finally, a plaintiff must allege facts that show that the defendant furnisher acted either willfully or negligently. See Gorman, 584 F.3d at 1154. The Court addresses each of the four requirements below.

         1. Furnisher Must Provide ...

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