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Croft v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

February 10, 2016

DEBRA B. CROFT, Plaintiff,
v.
BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

MARY GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

I. INTRODUCTION

This is a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681, action. The Court has jurisdiction over the matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Pending before the Court is Defendant Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC’s motion for summary judgment. Having carefully considered the motion, the response, the reply, the record, and the applicable law, it is the judgment of the Court that Defendant’s motion for summary judgment will be granted.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In November 2007, Plaintiff Debra B. Croft entered into a guaranty agreement with Interbay Funding, LLC, securing a promissory note for a line of credit for Kirby Croft Florist & Greenhouse, Inc. (Florist Shop). ECF No. 79-1 at 1. Plaintiff partially owned the Florist Shop as a minority shareholder. ECF No. 81 at 4. Subsequently, the loan was assigned to Defendant, and the loan itself was secured by a mortgage on the real property of the Florist Shop. ECF No. 79-1 at 2. Though Plaintiff contends she was fraudulently induced by the other shareholders of the Florist Shop to sign the guaranty, ECF No. 81 at 4-5, Plaintiff nevertheless admits to signing the guaranty, ECF No. 79-2 at 3-4.

After removing Plaintiff from all responsibility for the management of the Florist Shop, the other shareholders of the Florist Shop failed to make the first payment due on the loan in January 2008, and following this default, Defendant commenced a lawsuit in South Carolina state court seeking foreclosure of the mortgage and a judgment on the guaranty. ECF No. 79-1 at 2, ECF No. 81 at 4-5. Defendant named Plaintiff as a party to the lawsuit pursuant to her status as a guarantor for the loan. ECF No. 79-1 at 2. Eventually, the court entered a dismissal as to Plaintiff on January 5, 2011. ECF No. 79-5 at 2-3.

Despite this dismissal, Defendant began reporting the foreclosure to the three major credit reporting agencies in March 2012. ECF No. 79-1 at 3. Plaintiff’s insurance carrier subsequently alerted her to the foreclosure claim on her credit report, and in September 2012, she contacted the credit reporting agencies to dispute the entry of the foreclosure on her credit report. ECF No. 81 at 6. Transunion immediately removed the foreclosure entry from its credit report, but Experian first contacted Defendant to verify the accuracy of the foreclosure entry. Id.; ECF No. 79-1 at 3. Upon receiving the verified information, Experian presented Plaintiff with an updated credit report; however, the report still contained the loan default and foreclosure entry. ECF No. 79-1 at 3-4.

Plaintiff also submitted a credit dispute to Defendant by facsimile on October 4, 2012, disputing the entry of any credit reporting related to the foreclosure action. ECF No. 79-2 at 8-11. Defendant replied by letter to Plaintiff on October 30, 2012, informing Plaintiff that it would not be making any change in reporting the foreclosure on her credit report. ECF No. 79-1 at 4. In her deposition, Plaintiff admitted receipt of Defendant’s letter and expressed her understanding that Defendant would not be changing its reporting of the foreclosure on her credit report. ECF No. 79-2 at 13-14.

Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this action on December 5, 2014, and she filed an Amended Complaint on April 24, 2015. In the Amended Complaint, she alleges four causes of action against Defendant: (1) violation of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. § 1681; (2) violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act (SCUTPA), SC Code Ann. § 39-5-10; (3) interference with prospective contractual relations; and (4) interference with contract. ECF No. 46.

Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on December 22, 2015. The Court, having been fully briefed on the relevant issues, is now prepared to make a determination on the merits of the motion.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is only appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In deciding whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the evidence of the non-moving party is to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in his favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The moving party has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the moving party makes this showing, however, the opposing party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but rather must, by affidavits or other means permitted by the Rule, set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A party asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A litigant “cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another.” Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985). Therefore, “[m]ere unsupported speculation . . . is not enough to defeat a summary judgment motion.” Ennis v. Nat’l Ass’n of Bus. & Educ. Radio, Inc., 53 F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995).

“[W]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, disposition by summary judgment is appropriate.” Teamsters Joint Council No. 83 v. Centra, Inc., 947 F.2d 115, 119 (4th Cir. 1996). “Summary judgment is proper only when it is clear that there is no dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the inferences to be drawn from those facts.” Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). The court must determine “whether the evidence presents a sufficient ...


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