October 25, 2021

Volume XI, Number 298

Advertisement
Advertisement

October 25, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis
Advertisement

District Court Finds Equitable Relief Not Available to Private Litigants Under FCRA

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently dismissed FCRA claims of a pro se Plaintiff finding that there is no private cause of action for equitable relief.  In Jackson Phillip Mosley v. Bank Of America, N.A., No. CV 20-3065 (CKK), 2021 WL 4243406 (D.D.C. Sept. 17, 2021), Plaintiff alleged that a credit card account was opened in his name by someone other than Plaintiff.  He disputed the information with the consumer reporting agencies and reported identity theft.  Defendant, the furnisher, conducted an investigation and found that Plaintiff was responsible for the account.  Following the investigation, Plaintiff paid the account balance but alleged that Defendant refused to provide any details on its determination that Plaintiff was responsible for the account.

Plaintiff brought claims under 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681s-2(a) and (b) against Defendant, but did not seek monetary relief, only an injunction requiring “Defendant to notify and delete errant information on the reports maintained by all major credit bureaus.” 2021 WL 4243406, *2 (cleaned up).  The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim under § 1681s-2(a), which gives enforcement power to federal and state agencies to require furnishers of information to correctly and accurately inform the consumer reporting agencies.  The Court’s dismissal of the §1681s-2(a) claim was with prejudice as it is exclusively enforced by government agencies and there is no private right of action. 

Plaintiff’s remaining claim is under § 1681s-2(b), which governs the duties to investigate consumer disputes.  In particular, this subsection requires a furnisher to conduct a reasonable investigation into the dispute initiated by a consumer.  While the consumer may disagree with the final result of the investigation, liability attaches only when a furnisher fails to conduct a reasonable investigation.  To succeed under § 1681s-2(b), a plaintiff must satisfy the following elements: “(1) he notified a CRA of a dispute related to his credit information; (2) the CRA then notified the furnisher of the information about the dispute; and (3) the furnisher failed to fulfill the obligations enumerated in § 1681s-2(b)(1).” Id. at *3.

Here, Defendant argued that the investigation reflected the reporting was accurate but the Court found that there were disputes of fact on that issue. Thus, on its face, the Court could find that Plaintiff has stated a plausible claim for relief under § 1681s-2(b).  Nevertheless, the Court dismissed the complaint on Plaintiff’s prayer for injunctive relief only finding that equitable relief is not available to private litigants under FCRA.  The Court dismissed the claim without prejudice to allow Plaintiff to seek alternative and available relief.  

Copyright © 2021 Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 267
Advertisement

About this Author

Chukwukpee Nzegwu Corporate Litigation Attorney Womble Bond Dickinson Baltimore
Associate

Chukwukpee is an associate in the Business Litigation group. He focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation.

Prior to joining the firm, he was a judicial intern to The Hon. Judge George L. Russell, III in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

410-545-5861
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement