Cases & Deals

Experian obtains summary judgment in lawsuit alleging agent error leading to inaccurate reporting of consumer bankruptcy

Client(s) Experian Information Solutions, Inc.

Jones Day client Experian Information Solutions, Inc. (“Experian”) obtained a complete victory on summary judgment against a plaintiff alleging that Experian had inaccurately reported the facts of her Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The plaintiff alleged that Experian negligently and willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.) when, in response to a dispute by the plaintiff requesting that her credit files be updated in accordance with her bankruptcy schedules, Experian's agent overlooked one of the creditor accounts and failed to update the information as requested. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted Experian's motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff could not meet her prima facie burden of proving that she suffered any damages as a result of any allegedly inaccurate information. Specifically, the court noted that the plaintiff's only credit denial was from the same creditor whose account had been overlooked in the plaintiff's dispute and the same creditor whom the plaintiff had left in lurch when, because of her underwater mortgage, she filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Accordingly, the court found that any allegedly stale information in Experian's reporting of that creditor account could not have caused the plaintiff's credit denial as that creditor had first-hand knowledge of the current status of the account and as the denial, based on the evidentiary record, was simply a result of the creditor's unwillingness to extend credit to an individual who had already stiffed them once. The court additionally found that the plaintiff's claim of emotional damages was supported only by her own conclusory and self-serving deposition testimony, and was therefore insufficient under Seventh Circuit law. Finding no damages, the court turned to the plaintiff's claim for statutory damages for a willful violation of the FCRA and held that the overlooking of the one creditor account was simply human error that did not amount to reckless disregard of Experian's FCRA obligations. The court denied the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment, granted Experian's motion for summary judgment, and dismissed all claims against Experian with prejudice.

Webb v. Bank of America, N.A. et al., No. 15-cv-10355 (N.D. Ill.)