United States District Court, E.D. California
JAMES SNELL, an individual on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
G4S SECURE SOLUTIONS USA INC., and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS UNDER RULE 12(B)(6). (ECF NO. 7)
Lawrence J. O'Neill UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE
2019, Plaintiff James Snell (“Snell”) brought
this putative class action against his former employer and a
security company, Defendant G4S Secure Solutions (USA), Inc.
(“G4S”), for violations of the Fair Credit
Reporting Act (“FCRA”). ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 5,
10. Specifically, Snell claims that the authorization form
that G4S provided him to sign in order to perform
employment-related background checks fails to satisfy the
clear, conspicuous, and standalone requirements of 15 U.S.C.
§ 1681b(b)(2)(A). Id. ¶¶ 5, 16.
Contending that the Complaint fails to allege sufficient
facts to establish such statutory violations, G4S filed the
instant Motion to Dismiss (the “Motion”) under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on August 2, 2019.
Id. No. 7. Snell filed his Opposition on August 20,
and G4S replied on August 27. Id. Nos. 10-11.
to Local Rule 230(g), the Court finds this matter suitable
for a decision on the papers. Having considered all of the
arguments raised in the parties' submissions, relevant
law, and record in this case, the Court DENIES the Motion.
following facts are drawn from the Complaint and are accepted
as true only for the purposes of this Motion to Dismiss.
Cousins v. Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir.
2009). In October 2018, Snell started to work for G4S as a
security officer. ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 2, 5, 11.
complete his employment application to work for G4S, Snell
signed a Disclosure and Authorization to Obtain Consumer
Report and/or Investigative Consumer Report and Release form
(the “disclosure form”) authorizing G4S to obtain
his consumer report and to verify his background and
experience. Id. ¶ 4. Snell now claims that the
disclosure form he signed is analogous to the ones in
Gilberg v. California Check Cashing Stores, LLC, 913
F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 2019), and Syed v. M-I, LLC, 853
F.3d 492, 500 (9th Cir.), which the Ninth Circuit found to be
in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2)(A)(i).
Id. ¶¶ 5, 43-45. Section 1681b(b)(2)(A)(i)
requires that a FCRA disclosure form consists solely of the
disclosure without any extraneous information-this is known
as the “standalone requirement.” Id.
¶¶ 5, 42, 44. Section 1681b(b)(2)(A)(i) also
requires a FCRA disclosure form to be clear and conspicuous
to a reasonable consumer-this is known as the “clear
and conspicuous requirement.” Id. ¶¶
Complaint asserts two causes of action. The first one is
premised on the theory that G4S willfully violated the
standalone, clear, and conspicuous requirements of the FCRA
by including in its disclosure form not only a FCRA
disclosure but also other disclosure requirements under
California, Minnesota, and Oklahoma laws, which confused
Snell as a reasonable consumer. Id. ¶¶ 26,
42-46; id., Exh. 1. The second cause of action is
dependent on the first. Snell claims that because G4S
violated Section 1681b(b)(2)(A)(i), it did not acquire a
valid consent from Snell to obtain his consumer report in
violation of Section 1681b(b)(2)(A)(ii). Id.
¶¶ 54-56. By bringing this putative class action,
Snell seeks statutory damages under 15 U.S.C. §
1681n(a)(1)(A), punitive damages under § 1681n(a)(2),
and attorney's fees and costs under § 1681n(a)(3)
for himself and all the putative class members. Id.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the legal
sufficiency of the opposing party's pleadings. Dismissal
of an action under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper where there is
either a “lack of a cognizable legal theory or the
absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal
theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept.,
901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). When considering a motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6),
“[a]ll factual allegations in the complaint are
accepted as true, and the pleadings construed in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Doe I v.
Nestle USA, Inc., 766 F.3d 1013, 1018 (9th Cir. 2014)
(internal quotation marks and internal citation omitted).
“In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, [courts
are limited] to the complaint itself and its attached
exhibits, documents incorporated by reference, and matters
properly subject to judicial notice.” In re NVIDIA
Corp. Sec. Litig., 768 F.3d 1046, 1051 (9th Cir. 2014)
(internal citations omitted).
8(a)(2) requires a complaint to provide “only ‘a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief' in order to ‘give
the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley
v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80
(1957)). A sufficiently pled claim “does not need
detailed factual allegations [but] a plaintiff's
obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his
‘entitlement to relief' requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the element of
a cause of action will not do.” Id. (internal
is sufficiently pled when it is “plausible on its face,
” meaning that there are enough facts alleged to
“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). This determination is “a context-specific task
that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id. at 679. A
claim which is possible, but which is not supported by enough
facts to “nudge [it] across the line from conceivable
to plausible . . . must be dismissed.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Rule 8 does not
“unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed
with nothing more than conclusions.” Ashcroft,
556 U.S. at 678-79.
Fair Credit Reporting Act has as one of its purposes to
‘protect consumer privacy.'” United
States v. Bormes, 568 U.S. 6, 7 (2012) (internal
citations omitted). The FCRA “provides that
‘[a]ny person who willfully fails to comply
with any requirement [of the Act] with respect to any
[individual] is liable to that [individual]' for, among
other things, either ‘actual damages' or statutory
damages of $100 to $1, 000 per violation, costs of the action
and attorney's fees, and possibly punitive
damages.” Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct.
1540, 1545 (2016) (internal citation omitted) (emphasis
seeks to dismiss this action under Rule 12(b)(6) on two
grounds. First, G4S argues that Snell fails to plead
sufficient facts to show that its alleged violation of
Section 1681b(b)(2)(A)(i) was willful. Second, G4S argues
that Snell fails to allege sufficiently how the disclosure
form is not clear and conspicuous. Both grounds go to
Snell's first cause of action, but if the first claim
fails, the second claim also fails as the later depends on
the former. The Court addresses each issue in turn.
Willful Noncompliance Under 15 U.S.C. §
as provided in subparagraph (B), a person may not procure a
consumer report, or cause a consumer report to be procured,
for employment ...