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Chen v. Vertical Screen, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

August 25, 2017

TOM CHEN, Plaintiff,
v.
VERTICAL SCREEN, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          JAMES L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Defendants Vertical Screen, Inc., and Truescreen, Inc.'s (collectively, “Defendants”)[1] motion to dismiss pro se Plaintiff Tom Chen's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (MTD (Dkt. # 7).) The court has considered the parties' submissions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [2] the court grants Defendants' motion for the reasons set forth below.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Chen filed a complaint against Defendants in King County Superior Court on May 30, 2017, alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and Washington's Criminal Records Privacy Act (“CRPA”), RCW ch. 10.97. (See Compl. (Dkt. # 1-1) at 4-5.) On June 19, 2017, Defendants removed the case to this court based on diversity and supplemental jurisdiction. (See Not. of Removal (Dkt. # 1) at 2); 28 U.S.C. § 1331; id. § 1367.

         Defendants are consumer reporting agencies that assemble information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties. (See MTD at 2); 15 U.S.C. § 1681a. Mr. Chen alleges that his employer obtained a background report on him from Defendants on May 18, 2017. (See Compl. at 2.) The report stated that Mr. Chen was subject to two misdemeanor criminal charges that had been dismissed on May 27, 2011. (Id.) The results of Defendants' report allegedly prevented Mr. Chen from obtaining security credentials required to work on a specific project, and as a result, his employer terminated his employment. (See Id. at 3.) Mr. Chen alleges that Defendants' staff “refused to delete the criminal record” when he contacted them on May 23, 2017. (See id.)

         After Mr. Chen filed his complaint, he obtained, in a separate state court proceeding, an order expunging the case records for the dismissed charges that Defendants reported. (See Resp. at 3, Ex. U (“Pierce Cty. Dist. Ct. Order”).) The order directs state, county, and local “government agencies, federal or national background reporting companies (including but not limited to Truescreen, Inc.), [and] credit bureaus” to “expunge related records in their possession or control.” (See Pierce Cty. Dist. Ct. Order at 1.)[3]

         On June 26, 2017, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Chen's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (See MTD at 1.) Defendants' motion is now before the court.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard

         Rule 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). While “detailed factual allegations” are not required, a complaint must include “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In other words, a complaint must have sufficient factual allegations to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible “when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Under Rule 12(b)(6), dismissal can be based on “the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Livid Holdings Ltd. v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc., 416 F.3d 940, 946 (9th Cir. 2005). The court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Wyler Summit P'ship v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc., 135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998). The court also liberally construes a complaint filed by a pro se litigant like Mr. Chen. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (“A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). However, “pro se litigants in the ordinary civil case should not be treated more favorably than parties with attorneys of record, ” Jacobsen v. Filler, 790 F.2d 1362, 1364 (9th Cir.1986), and the court cannot supply essential facts that the pro se plaintiff has failed to plead, Pena v. Gardner, 976 F.2d 469, 471 (9th Cir. 1992).

         B. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

         Liberally construed, Mr. Chen's complaint alleges that: (1) Defendants violated 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b), the provision of the FCRA that requires a consumer reporting agency (“CRA”) to follow reasonable procedures to “assure maximum possible accuracy” of the information in a report, and (2) Defendants violated RCW 10.97.060, a provision of the CRPA that requires criminal justice agencies (“CJAs”) to delete certain nonconviction data upon request if two years have elapsed since the entry of a disposition favorable to the defendant. (See Compl. at 4; Resp. (Dkt. # 9) at 3.) Defendants argue that Mr. Chen's complaint fails ...


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