• Plaintiff Survives Summary Judgment Challenge on § 1681e(b) Claim Despite Alleged Lack of Evidence on Elements
  • June 24, 2009 | Author: Matthew Kasey Ratliff
  • Law Firm: Strasburger & Price, LLP - Dallas Office
  • Wilson v. Prudential Financial, et al., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26483 (D. DC March 30, 2009)

    Facts: Defendant CARCO Group, Inc. (“CARCO”), a credit reporting agency, prepared a background report on Plaintiff for Prudential Financial Services (“Prudential”) related to Plaintiff’s offer of employment with Prudential. The background report’s criminal history section included the word “pending” in relation to a criminal charge. Prudential withdrew the offer. CARCO subsequently forwarded an amended background report on Plaintiff to Prudential indicating that Plaintiff had no past or pending criminal charges but Prudential refused to re-extend the offer. Plaintiff brought suit against CARCO alleging CARCO violated § 1681e(b) of the Fair Credit Report Act (“FCRA”). CARCO moved for summary judgment alleging Plaintiff had not provided sufficient evidence on all the elements of his claim. The court denied Defendant’s motion.

    • § 1681e(b). To survive summary judgment, a plaintiff alleging a violation of § 1681e(b) must present evidence from which a reasonable jury can infer that (1) the credit reporting agency reported inaccurate or misleading information; (2) the consumer reporting agency failed to use reasonable procedures to compile information with maximum accuracy; (3) the plaintiff was actually injured; and (4) the consumer reporting agency’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injury.
    • Inaccuracy. In certain circumstances, inaccurate credit reports themselves may be sufficient to demonstrate the unreasonableness of a credit reporting agency’s procedures and the absence of direct evidence may not always be fatal to a plaintiff’s claim.
    • Inaccuracy. Statements made by CARCO and Prudential employees to Plaintiff were sufficient evidence to create a triable issue of material fact as to whether the term “pending” in the background report was misleading to Prudential employees.
    • Reasonable Procedures. The determination of the reasonableness of the Defendant’s procedures involves a balancing test. The courts must weigh the potential that information will be misleading against the availability of more accurate or complete information and the burden of providing such information. Plaintiff created a triable issue of material fact on CARCO’s procedures based on the circumstances of the reporting and the fact that Plaintiff stood to suffer grave harm from misleading information in the background report while CARCO could have easily clarified that “pending” referred to completion of the report rather than pending criminal charges.
    • Damages. Plaintiff satisfied his burden to show the extent of damages as a matter of “just and reasonable inference,” despite approximate result, by providing evidence of the income he would have derived had Prudential employed him.
    • Causation. Seemingly conflicting testimony regarding the reason for Prudential’s withdrawn offer of employment based on the background report prepared by CARCO was sufficient for a reasonable jury to infer that the term “pending” in the background report caused Prudential to revoke Plaintiff’s employment offer.