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White v. Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California

November 15, 2019

Todd Christopher White, Plaintiff,
Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC, et al., Defendants.


          Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers United States District Court Judge.

         Before the Court is defendant Capital One Bank, N.A.'s (“Capital One”) motion to dismiss pro se plaintiff Todd Christopher White's complaint, (see Dkt. No. 1 (“Compl.”)), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 28.)[1] Having carefully considered the pleadings in this action and the papers submitted, [2] and for the reasons set forth below, the Court Grants the motion to dismiss but affords Plaintiff Leave to Amend as set forth herein.[3]

         I. Background

         The following facts are based on the allegations of plaintiff's complaint: Plaintiff filed a “voluntary petition” for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California on June 4, 2015. (Compl. ¶ 11.) That day, the court entered a notice of failure to comply with filing requirements, notice of errors/deficiencies, and notice of incomplete schedules. (Id.; see also Compl., Ex. 3.) The court ultimately entered an order approving the trustee's report of no distribution and closed the case. (Compl., Ex. 3).[4]

         Plaintiff alleges the consumer reports that Equifax maintains of plaintiff include inaccurate information about a purported “bankruptcy discharge.” (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff further alleges that no bankruptcy action in fact “commenced” since plaintiff's bankruptcy petition was “dismissed because [of] substantial defects contained in [the] initiation paperwork.” (Id. ¶ 12.) Because of inaccurate reporting of the bankruptcy as discharged, plaintiff was required to pay money in order to obtain multiple copies of his consumer reports for further review and inspection. (Id. ¶ 13.)[5]

         With respect to Capital One specifically, plaintiff alleges that Capital One is a “creditor, ” which means “any person who offers or extends credit creating a debt or to whom a debt is owed.” (Id. ¶ 7.) The Equifax credit report attached to Plaintiff's complaint lists Capital One as an “original creditor” of a debt purportedly owed by Plaintiff. (Id., Ex. 2.) Portfolio Associates is listed on the credit report as the “collection agency” for the debt. The credit report further states that the debt is in dispute. (Id.)[6]

         From these factual allegations, Plaintiff asserts three claims against Capital One for: (i) false reporting and/or failure to conduct a reasonable investigation of a disputed record on a credit report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. sections 1681, 1681i; (ii) false representations concerning the character, amount, or legal status of a debt, and failure to communicate to credit reporting agencies that a debt is disputed under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. sections 1692, 1692f, and 1692g; and (iii) unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices in violation of California Business and Professions Code section 17200, et. seq. (the “UCL”).

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a district court must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must allege “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). A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff pleads facts that “allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). There must be “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. While courts do not require the “heightened fact pleading of specifics, ” a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570.

         In deciding whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court accepts the plaintiff's allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Usher v. City of L.A., 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987). The Court need not, however, accept as true allegations that contradict matters properly subject to judicial notice or by exhibit. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). Nor is the Court required to accept as true “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 omitted).

         Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S 519, 520-21 (1972); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam), and complaints by pro se plaintiffs are liberally construed, Karim-Panahi v. L.A. Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). A pro se litigant should be given leave to amend his complaint unless it is absolutely clear that no amendment could cure the deficiencies of the complaint. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

         III. Discussion

         A. First Cause of Action: FCRA Violation

         The purpose of the FCRA is to protect consumers from the transmission of inaccurate credit information. Carvalho v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC,629 F.3d 876, 890 (9th Cir. 2010). Under the FCRA, furnishers of information are required to provide accurate information when providing reports to a credit reporting agency. 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(a). Consumers who believe that a furnisher is providing inaccurate information may dispute their credit reports. 15 U.S.C. § 1681i . When a dispute is sent to a credit reporting agency, the furnisher of the information is provided notice and must conduct a reasonable investigation to verify the accuracy of the reporting. 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b). Consumers may bring suit against those furnishers who violate the provisions of the FCRA. Nelson v. Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp.,282 F.3d 1057, 1059-60 (9th Cir. 2002). To bring a claim against a furnisher of information that is capable of surviving a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must make a prima facie showing of inaccurate ...

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