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Rodriguez v. Experian Information Solutions Inc

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

October 3, 2017

JESSE RODRIGUEZ, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant AllianceOne Receivables Management, Inc.'s (“AllianceOne”) Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. # 35. Plaintiff Jesse Rodriguez opposes the motion. Dkt. # 38. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant's Motion. Dkt. # 35.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Jesse Rodriguez, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, filed suit against Defendants Experian Information Solutions, Inc. (“Experian”) and AllianceOne, claiming that Defendants violated the Fair Credit Report Act (“FCRA”). Dkt. # 1. AllianceOne is a debt collecting agency that contracted with the City of Seattle to collect on unpaid parking ticket judgments. Dkt. # 37. When collecting a judgment, AllianceOne would typically attempt to work with the judgment debtor to pay off the unpaid debt. If the debtor did not cooperate or was unresponsive, AllianceOne would request the debtor's credit report to obtain updated contact information or attachable assets. Dkt. # 39 Ex. B.

         The City of Seattle referred several of Plaintiff's parking tickets to AllianceOne for collection. Dkt. # 37. These unpaid parking tickets were eventually reduced to judgment[1]. Dkt. # 9. On December 14, 2013 and April 3, 2014, AllianceOne requested and received Plaintiff's credit report from Experian in order to obtain more information to aid them in collecting payment of Plaintiff's parking ticket judgments. Dkt. # 37. AllianceOne then attempted to garnish one of Plaintiff's bank accounts. The garnishment was unsuccessful because Plaintiff had no money in that account. Dkt. # 36.

         On May 1, 2015, Plaintiff applied for and was denied a credit card from Bank of America. Id. At that time, Plaintiff learned that he had collection accounts reporting on his credit report. Id. Plaintiff then paid off these debts. Dkt. # 37. On August 4, 2015, Plaintiff filed this suit, alleging, among other things, that AllianceOne violated the FCRA when it requested Plaintiff's credit report for an alleged impermissible purpose. Dkt. # 1.


         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the moving party will have the burden of proof at trial, it must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party. Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). On an issue where the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party can prevail merely by pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets the initial burden, the opposing party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial in order to defeat the motion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150-51 (2000).

         However, the court need not, and will not, “scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact.” Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also, White v. McDonnel-Douglas Corp., 904 F.2d 456, 458 (8th Cir. 1990) (the court need not “speculate on which portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it obliged to wade through and search the entire record for some specific facts that might support the nonmoving party's claim”). The opposing party must present significant and probative evidence to support its claim or defense. Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991). Uncorroborated allegations and “self-serving testimony” will not create a genuine issue of material fact. Villiarimo v. Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir. 2002); T.W. Elec. Serv. V. Pac Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).


         A. Permissible Purpose

         As noted in the Court's previous Order denying AllianceOne's Motion to Dismiss, under the FCRA, third parties may request a consumer's credit report from a credit reporting agency for “certain statutorily enumerated purposes.” Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass'n, 605 F.3d 665, 674 (9th Cir. 2009)(“Pintos II”). Consumer credit reports may be used for debt collection purposes, as long as debt collection agencies demonstrate that the outstanding debt, in addition to “involving” consumers, stems from a “credit” transaction. Dkt. # 21. In order for the credit transaction to “involve” a consumer, that consumer must “initiate” the transaction. Pintos II, 605 F.3d at 675.

         Instead of making an argument about the application of the law to the facts of this case, AllianceOne now advocates for an alternative reading of the statute, which it believes provides an alternative basis for finding that AllianceOne had a “permissible purpose” to request Plaintiff's credit report. AllianceOne argues that when 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681b(a)(3)(A), 1681b(c) and 1681a(m) are read together, the ensuing interpretation allows credit reports to be used in credit transactions that are not initiated by the consumer. 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(a)(3)(A) allows a consumer report to be obtained for “review of collection of an account.” 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(c) sets forth conditions in which a consumer credit report may be provided in connection with a “credit or insurance transaction that is not initiated by the consumer.” 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(m) defines what is not included under the umbrella of the term “credit or insurance transaction that is not initiated by the consumer.” One of the actions not included within that term is the use of a credit report by a “person with which the consumer has an account or insurance policy for purposes of . . . collecting the account.” 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(m). AllianceOne argues that because section 1681a(m) specifically excludes “collecting an account” from the definition of the term “credit or insurance transaction that is not initiated by the consumer”, the inverse of that proposition must be true. Thus, by AllianceOne's reasoning, the collection of an account is a credit transaction that is initiated by the consumer.

         While the Ninth Circuit specifically states that it did not “opine on the meaning or scope of 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681a(m) and 1681b(c), ” its statements regarding the purpose of those provisions are illuminating. Per the decision in Pintos III, sections 1681a(m) and 1681b(c) were added to the FCRA “to permit lenders and insurance companies to solicit for business by purchasing lists and limited information about customers who match certain criteria (such as zip code and credit score) from credit reporting agencies, ” or to allow these companies to send “pre-approved” offers of credit to certain customers. Thus, these sections were ...

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