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Burns v. Trans Union, LLC

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

August 19, 2019

LATISHA BURNS, Plaintiff,
v.
TRANS UNION, LLC, EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, SANTANDER CONSUMER USA, INC.; and WAREHOUSE HOME FURNISHINGS DISTRIBUTORS, INC., f/k/a Farmers Furniture Company, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT WAREHOUSE HOME FURNISHINGS DISTRIBUTORS'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUTION

         This is an action for negligent and willful violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the FCRA). The Court has jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Pending before the Court is Defendant Warehouse Home Furnishings Distributors, Inc.'s (Warehouse) motion to dismiss. Having carefully considered Warehouse's motion, the response, the reply, the record, oral arguments made at the hearing on this motion, and the applicable law, it is the judgment of the Court Warehouse's motion to dismiss will be denied.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This claim arose when Plaintiff Latisha Burns (Burns) received her Trans Union credit disclosure on May 1, 2018. Amended Complaint ¶11. According to Burns's amended complaint, she noticed a monthly payment of $70.00 on her credit disclosure after Warehouse had “closed and charged off” her account. Id. ¶9-10. At oral argument on this motion, the parties indicated “closed and charged off” means the account has been closed, a monthly payment is no longer due, but the total amount of the loan remains due and owing.

         Burns sent letters to Trans Union and Equifax disputing the $70.00 tradeline from Warehouse, and asked them to report the errant tradeline with the monthly payment amount of $0.00. Id. ¶ 12-14. Trans Union and Equifax forwarded Burns's letters to Warehouse. Id. ¶15. On August 29, 2018, and September 11, 2018, respectively, Burns received investigation results from Trans Union and Equifax detailing how Trans Union, Equifax, and “[Warehouse] failed or refused to report the scheduled monthly payment as $0.00 on the [Warehouse] Errant Tradeline.” Id. ¶ 16-17. This lawsuit followed.

         After Burns filed her amended complaint, Warehouse filed its motion to dismiss (Warehouse's motion). Burns then filed her response to Warehouse's motion, and Warehouse replied. The Court, having been fully briefed on the relevant issues, held a hearing on August 8, 2019, and is now prepared to discuss the merits of Warehouse's motion to dismiss.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Defendant Warehouse has moved to dismiss Burns's claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. “The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency of a complaint.” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir.1999). To survive a motion to dismiss, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although Rule 8(a) does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” it requires “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation, ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555(2007)), in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In other words, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A claim is facially plausible “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. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). A complaint alleging facts that are “‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         In considering a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's well-pled allegations are taken as true, and the complaint and all reasonable inferences are liberally construed in the plaintiff's favor. Mylan Laboratories, Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130 (4th Cir. 1993). The court may consider only the facts alleged in the complaint, which may include any documents either attached to or incorporated in the complaint, and matters of which the court may take judicial notice. Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007). Although the court must accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as true, any conclusory allegations are not entitled to an assumption of truth, and even those allegations pled with factual support need only be accepted to the extent that “they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. The court need not accept unsupported legal allegations, Revene v. Charles Cnty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir.1989), legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to specific acts, dates, or policies, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir.1979). In sum, factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact). Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         IV. DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         Warehouse asserts (1) Burns's boilerplate allegations regarding damages do not establish she has suffered a cognizable injury, or any injury at all, and therefore she does not have standing under Article III and (2) Burns has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because she is unable to show a reasonable investigation would have led to a change in the information Warehouse reported to the credit bureaus. The Court will address each argument in turn.

         A. Whether Burns established injury in fact as required for standing under Article III

         To determine if Burns has Article III standing, the Court must decide whether Burns “(1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.” Dreher v. Experian Info. Sols., Inc.,856 F.3d 337, 343 (4th Cir. 2017) (citing Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins,136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016)). “The burden of establishing these elements falls ...


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