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Sanders v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc.

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

April 21, 2017

KATHERINE SANDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
EXPERIAN INFORMATION SOLUTIONS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT SPECIALIZED'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR IMPROPER VENUE WITH LEAVE TO AMEND; AND GRANTING DEFENDANT SPECIALIZED'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM WITH LEAVE TO AMEND [RE: ECF 43]

          BETH LABSON FREEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC (“Specialized”) moves to dismiss Plaintiff's first amended complaint (“FAC”) under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) and 12(b)(6) for improper venue and failure to state a claim, respectively. For the reasons discussed below, both motions are GRANTED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

         I.BACKGROUND [1]

         Plaintiff filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection on August 31, 2015, and her plan was confirmed on October 19, 2015. FAC ¶¶ 93, 97, ECF 25. On February 3, 2016, Plaintiff “ordered a three bureau report from Experian Information Solutions, Inc. to ensure proper reporting by Plaintiff's Creditors.” Id. ¶ 98. She alleges that this report (“February 2016 Credit Report”) included twenty-one different trade lines containing inaccurate, misleading, or incomplete information. Id. ¶ 99. Plaintiff neither attaches a copy of the February 2016 Credit Report nor provides specifics regarding the alleged inaccuracies contained therein. Id. She asserts only that “multiple trade lines continued to report Plaintiff's accounts with past due balances, inaccurate balances, in collections, and/or charged off. Some accounts even failed to register that Plaintiff was making payments on the account through Plaintiff's Chapter 13 plan.” Id.

         Plaintiff disputed the inaccurate trade lines via certified mail sent to three different credit reporting agencies (“CRAs”), Experian, Equifax, Inc., and TransUnion, LLC on April 12, 2016. FAC ¶ 100. Each CRA received Plaintiff's dispute letter and in turn notified the entities that had furnished the disputed information (“furnishers”) by means of automated credit dispute verifications (“ACDVs”). Id. ¶ 102.

         Plaintiff ordered a second three bureau report from Equifax, Inc. on June 1, 2016 (“June 2016 Credit Report”). FAC ¶ 103. Plaintiff alleges that a number of furnishers, including Specialized, improperly were reporting Plaintiff's accounts as having balances and past due balances, being in collections, and being charged off, which was inconsistent with Plaintiff's confirmed Chapter 13 plan. Id. ¶¶ 106-10. Plaintiff also alleges that Specialized's reporting was not consistent with industry standards. Id. ¶ 110.

         Plaintiff filed this action on August 12, 2016, asserting violations of the FCRA against multiple CRAs and furnishers, and she filed the operative FAC as of right on October 3, 2016. Compl., ECF 1; FAC, ECF 25. Plaintiff has dismissed or settled with all defendants except Specialized. Specialized now moves to dismiss the FAC for improper venue and failure to state a claim.

         II. IMPROPER VENUE - RULE 12(b)(3)

         A. Legal Standard

         A defense of improper venue may be raised by motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3). When venue is improper, the court “shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). The plaintiff bears the burden of showing that venue is proper. See Piedmont Label Co. v. Sun Garden Packing Co., 598 F.2d 491, 496 (9th Cir. 1979) (“Plaintiff had the burden of showing that venue was properly laid in the Northern District of California.”).

         B. Discussion

         Because Specialized has raised a defense of improper venue, Plaintiff has the burden of showing that venue is proper in this district. Venue is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), which provides as follows:

(b) Venue in general. - A civil action may be brought in -
(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located;
(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the ...

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