Cases & Deals

Experian prevails on summary judgment, granted attorney’s fees in case involving serial plaintiff

Clients Experian Information Solutions, Inc.

Jones Day client Experian Information Solutions, Inc. prevailed on a motion for summary judgment in a credit reporting dispute.

In September 2015, serial plaintiff Michael Collins filed his third lawsuit against Experian, while his second lawsuit was pending appeal in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. In this matter, the plaintiff alleged that Experian inaccurately reported tradelines from debt collection agencies seeking to recover unpaid amounts relating to services he obtained for utilities and medical treatment. The plaintiff alleged claims against Experian under the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") and further asserted that due to the credit harm, he had been foreclosed from obtaining millions of dollars in mortgage and other loans relating to investment property he either owned or intended to purchase.

However, during discovery, including at his deposition and in written responses, the plaintiff offered no actual evidence—with the exception of his self-serving, uncorroborated testimony—to substantiate his claims of inaccuracy and harm. Based on the undisputed evidence, Experian filed a motion for summary judgment on all claims in the fall of 2016. In February 2017, after full briefing, Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang recommended that the district court enter judgment in favor of Experian on the plaintiff's claims for violation of the FCRA. The plaintiff objected to the Magistrate's recommendation.

On March 13, 2017, after considering the plaintiff's objections to the Magistrate's recommendation, and reviewing de novo Experian's motion for summary judgment, the Hon. R. Brooke Jackson of the District of Colorado entered judgment in Experian's favor on all of the plaintiff's FCRA claims. The district court found no basis for disagreement with the Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation and held that the plaintiff failed to produce evidence that Experian's reporting was inaccurate and that its reinvestigation procedures were unreasonable and that he failed to come forward with sufficient evidence of damages.

Accordingly, the district court adopted the Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation granting Experian's motion for summary judgment in its entirety and terminating the plaintiff's dispute with Experian. Notably, the court denied summary judgment as to certain other codefendants' motions—the plaintiff's case against those defendants is scheduled for trial.

Experian’s win was finalized on February 7, 2018, when the district court granted its motion for attorney’s fees in the amount of $28,000. Citing the plaintiff’s "lengthy history of filing frivolous actions” that were often “without concern about the litigation costs he imposes on others, and … without any evidence of wrongdoing or damages,” the court made clear that the plaintiff had been abusing the judicial process and deserved to be sanctioned, even going as far as to call the claims “a form of bad faith,” and “vexatious.” The court further indicated its intent to recommend restrictions on the plaintiff's future ability to file lawsuits in the District of Colorado in forma pauperis.

The plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in December 2017. On October 26, 2018, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in all respects and awarded Experian its costs on appeal.

Collins v. Diversified Consultants, et al., No. 15-cv-02115 (D. Col.); No. 17-01446 (10th Cir.)

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