Cases & Deals

Experian wins Seventh Circuit appeal affirming summary judgment in putative class action

Clients Experian Information Solutions

On June 23, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment on all Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") claims in favor of Jones Day client Experian Information Solutions, Inc. ("Experian"), holding that Experian's procedures in reporting a dismissed Chapter 13 bankruptcy are reasonable as a matter of law. The plaintiff, on behalf of a putative class, had alleged that Experian should report voluntarily dismissed Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases as "withdrawn," not "dismissed." She claimed that Experian's failure to do so constituted a willful violation of the bankruptcy reporting requirements of the FCRA, and was caused by Experian's failure to follow reasonable procedures to ensure "maximum possible accuracy" of bankruptcy reporting, in further violation of the FCRA. After the plaintiff moved for class certification, Experian moved for summary judgment on the basis that its reporting procedures are reasonable and do not violate the FCRA. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana agreed that Experian's procedures are reasonable and consistent with Experian's obligations under the FCRA. Further, even if the plaintiff could show some violation of the FCRA, which she could not, the court found no evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that any violation was willful. Accordingly, the district court granted Experian's motion for summary judgment, dismissing with prejudice all claims against Experian, and denied the plaintiff's motion for class certification as moot.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision in full. Agreeing with Experian's reading of the FCRA, the Seventh Circuit held that a consumer reporting agency such as Experian should "act only upon receiving information from the bankruptcy petitioner indicating that the petition has indeed been voluntarily dismissed." Additionally, the Seventh Circuit upheld the accuracy of Experian's reporting, noting that "every bankruptcy case that is 'withdrawn' at the request of the petitioner is dismissed. There was therefore no inaccuracy in the statement in the plaintiff's credit report that her bankruptcy petition had been dismissed."

Childress v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., No. 12-cv-1529 (S.D. Ind.); No. 14-cv-2864 (7th Cir.)