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Haynes v. Equifax, Experion, and Transunion

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

August 21, 2018

Robert Genesee Haynes, Plaintiff,
v.
Equifax, Experion, and Transunion, Defendants.

          REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Kevin F. McDonald United States Magistrate Judge

         The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brings suit against Equifax, Experion, and Transunion (“the defendants”) for alleged fraudulent information on his credit reports. The plaintiff seeks monetary damages. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e)(D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in cases involving pro se litigants, and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.

         BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff filed this civil action on July 2, 2018. On July 9, 2018, the undersigned issued an order directing the plaintiff to bring this case into proper form by (1) completing and returning service documents for each defendant; (2) completing and returning a current civil complaint form; and (3) answering and returning Answers to the Court's Special Interrogatories (doc. 7). On July 31, 2018, the plaintiff complied with the court's proper form order.

         The plaintiff alleges that the defendants, all credit reporting services, reported fraudulent accounts and account information on his credit report. He alleges that he notified each defendant by letter “of their own negligence for claiming to have verified fraudulent accounts and fraudulent account information as being accurate, ” but they have failed to resolve his credit issues (Id. at 3). As a result, he claims he has been unable to get a loan to save his home from foreclosure, and he has suffered stress (doc. 1-2, p. 5).

         By way of order dated August 1, 2018, the plaintiff was advised that his complaint was subject to dismissal as it failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted (doc. 13). The order provided that the plaintiff could attempt to correct the defects in his complaint by filing an amended complaint within14 days of the court's order. The order warned the plaintiff that if he failed to file an amended complaint or failed to cure the deficiencies identified by the court, that the court would recommend to the district court that his case be dismissed. The time for filing the amended complaint has passed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the in forma pauperis statute. This statute authorizes the District Court to dismiss a case if it is satisfied that the action “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” is “frivolous or malicious, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A finding of frivolousness can be made where the complaint “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). Hence, under § 1915(e)(2)(B), a claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989).

         As a pro se litigant, the plaintiff's pleadings are accorded liberal construction and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007) (per curiam). Nonetheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). A complaint filed in federal court must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombley, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 570 (2007)). A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id.

         ANALYSIS

         Upon review, the court finds that the plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The plaintiff alleges that he identified fraudulent accounts and account information on his credit reports prepared by the defendants, and that he wrote them about the fraud without result. Although he alleges that he identified fraud and notified the defendants, he fails to state which specific accounts and account information are fraudulent, why it is fraudulent, and whether he so specifically advised each defendant. As such, these bare allegations alone are insufficient to state an actionable claim. Additionally, he has lumped all three defendants together despite the fact that they are three separate companies, each with its own credit file for the plaintiff. As pleaded, the complaint fails to provide the individual defendants with fair notice of the claims against them and why they are liable to the plaintiff . Therefore, the complaint fails to meet even the minimal pleading standards under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (“A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief[.]”); Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (“[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.”) (citing Bell, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). Accordingly, the defendants Equifax, Experion, and Transunion should be dismissed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (B)(ii).

         RECOMMENDATION

         By order issued on August 1, 2108, the undersigned gave the plaintiff an opportunity to correct the defects identified in his complaint and further warned the plaintiff that if he failed to file an amended complaint or failed to cure the identified deficiencies, the undersigned would recommend to the district court that the action be dismissed with prejudice and without leave for further amendment. The plaintiff failed to file an amended complaint within the time provided. Accordingly, in addition to the reasons discussed herein, this action should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) for failure to comply with a court order. Therefore, the undersigned recommends that the district court dismiss this action with prejudice and without issuance and service of process. See Workman v. Morrison Healthcare, No. 17-7621, 2018 WL 2472069, at *1 (4th Cir. June 4, 2018) (stating that district court should, “in its discretion, either afford [the ...


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