United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON
THE PLEADINGS [DOC. 10]
ROGER T. BENITEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Equifax Information Services LLC moves under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(c) for judgment on the pleadings. The
motion is GRANTED.
Don Neabors brings two claims against Defendant Equifax for
its alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
Specifically, Neabors brings claims for (1) Equifax's
negligent failure to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation, as
required by 15 U.S.C. §§ 168 li and 1681e(b) and
(2) for Equifax's willful violation of §§ 168li
claims against Equifax arise out of his tradeline with Navy
Federal Credit Union, which was discharged in bankruptcy on
January 8, 2013. In October of 2017, Neabors obtained his
Equifax credit file. Neabors pleads that the credit file
"inaccurately failed to report that the account was
discharged." [Doc. 1, ¶¶ 6-7.] As reflected in
the October 2017 credit file attached to Equifax's
motion, the file listed Neabors's Navy Federal tradeline
account status as "Closed" with a payment status of
"Included in Bankruptcy" and blanks for the
balance, amount past due, and other fields. See
[Doc. 10-2 (October 2017 Credit File)].
November 28, 2017, Neabors submitted a letter to Equifax
disputing the Navy Federal tradeline listing and explaining
that the tradeline was discharged in bankruptcy. On February
6, 2018, Neabors again obtained his Equifax credit file,
which still did not report the Navy Federal tradeline as
"discharged." Instead, the report reflected the
same information as before, including a "Closed"
designation and a payment status of "Included in
argues judgment on the pleadings is warranted because Neabors
cannot state a prima facie case for either of his FCRA
claims. The Court agrees. Under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(c), "[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but
early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment
on the pleadings." In evaluating Equifax's Rule
12(c) motion, the Court applies the same standard as on a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See Cafasso, U.S.
ex rel. v. General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc., 637 F.3d
1047, 1055, n. 4 (9th Cir. 2011) ("Rule 12(c) is
functionally identical to Rule 12(b)(6) and . . . the same
standard of review applies to motions brought under either
rule.") (internal citations omitted)). Thus, in
reviewing the motion, the Court must accept the
Complaint's allegations as true and construe all
reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009). To
avoid dismissal, Neabors's Complaint must plead
"enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Bell Atl Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
state a claim under both §§ 1681e(b) and 16811,
Neabors must plead that Equifax's credit reports about
him contained a factual inaccuracy. See Guimond v. Trans
Union Credit Info. Co., 45 F.3d 1329, 1333 (9th Cir.
1995) ("In order to make out a prima facie violation
under § 168 le(b), a consumer must present evidence
tending to show that a credit reporting agency prepared a
report containing inaccurate information.");
Carvalho v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 629 F.3d 876,
890 (9th Cir. 2010) (concluding that for a plaintiff to state
a claim under § 16811, the plaintiff must allege an
actual inaccuracy). Under the FCRA, a credit entry is
"inaccurate" where "it is patently incorrect,
or because it is misleading in such a way and to such an
extent that it can be expected to adversely affect credit
decisions." Gorman v. Wolpoff & Abramson,
LLP, 584 F.3d 1147, 1163 (9th Cir. 2009).
support of its motion, Equifax contends that Neabors's
claims must fail as a matter of law because he has not and
cannot plead that Equifax's reports contained any such
factual inaccuracy. Equifax further argues that nothing in
its reports is inaccurate or misleading because they
correctly reflect that Neabors's Navy Federal tradeline
was "Included in Bankruptcy" and designate the
account as "Closed" with no identified balances or
past due amounts.
responds that a factual inaccuracy exists because
Equifax's report must specifically provide
"discharged in bankruptcy," and Equifax's use
of "Included in Bankruptcy," instead, could be
understood to mean the bankruptcy is "still
pending" and that no discharge has been granted. The
Court disagrees. First, Neabors offers no authority showing
its preferred phrase, "discharged in bankruptcy,"
is required by the FCRA. Further, the Court finds implausible
Neabors's unsupported assertion that creditors would view
"Included in Bankruptcy" to mean the bankruptcy was
anything but discharged, particularly when reviewed within
the context of the report's other information, including
designating the Madeline's status as "Closed"
and including only blanks for the balance, amount past due,
and other fields. Indeed, other courts to consider arguments
like Neabors's have rejected them, finding instead that
the "Included in Bankruptcy" verbiage complies with
the FCRA by sufficiently communicating that a credit line was
discharged by bankruptcy. See, e.g., Fleming v. Trans
Union, LLC, 2019 WL 2498940, *3 (CD. Cal. March 8, 2019)
(finding plaintiff failed to state a claim under §
§ 1681 e(b) and 1681 i where defendant's credit
reports used the phrase "included in bankruptcy"
rather than "discharged in bankruptcy");
Johnson v. Equifax, Inc., 510 F.Supp.2d 638, 646
(S.D. Ala. 2007) (concluding that an "included in
bankruptcy" notation on the plaintiffs account was not
misleading and was accurate); Blanch v. Trans Union,
LLC, 333 F.Supp.3d 789, 793-94 (M.D. Tenn. 2018)
(finding not misleading or inaccurate the credit report's
"included in bankruptcy" notation accompanied by a
$0 account balance and "account closed by credit
grantor" designation); see also White v. Experian
Info. Sols., Inc., 8:05-cv-0170-DOC-MLG, Doc. 338 (CD
Cal. Aug. 19, 2008) (approving FCRA settlement agreement
under which tradelines would be coded "to indicate that
the account is discharged in the Consumer's Chapter 7
bankruptcy (e.g., by use of the terminology 'included
in bankruptcy') and . . . [by] reflecting] a
zero-dollar or blank account balance and past due
balance") (emphasis added).
the Court finds that Equifax's designation of
"Included in Bankruptcy" coupled with the
tradeline's status as "Closed" and the blanks
for the balance, amount past due, and other fields reflects
factually accurate information, which is neither
"patently false" nor "misleading in such a way
and to such an extent that it can be expected to adversely
affect credit decisions." Gorman, 584 F.3d at
1163. Because Neabors cannot allege Equifax's reports
contained the requisite factual inaccuracy, his claims must
fail. Moreover, the Court finds that granting
Neabors leave to amend would be futile because the requisite
factual inaccuracy does not exist. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 15(a) (providing that the district court may exercise its
discretion to deny leave to amend due to futility of
amendment, among other grounds); see also Carvalho v.
Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 629 F.3d 876, 892-93 (9th
Cir. 2010) (affirming district court's holding that
amendment would be futile because plaintiffs claims were
"clearly foreclosed by the inaccuracy requirement of
§ 16811"). Accordingly, Neabors's claims are
DISMISSED with prejudice.
previous reasons, Equifax's motion is GRANTED, and
Neabors's remaining claims against ...