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Warner v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 24, 2019

Trinity Warner, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Experian Information Solutions, Inc., an Ohio corporation, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued and Submitted March 8, 2019 Phoenix, Arizona

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona G. Murray Snow, Chief District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 2:15-cv-01212-GMS

          Edward Albert Mahl (argued), Law Offices of Edward A. Mahl, Troy, Michigan; Trinette G. Kent, Kent Law Offices, Phoenix, Arizona; for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Meir Feder (argued), Jones Day, New York, New York; Jeremy S. Close, John A. Vogt, and Richard J. Grabowski, Jones Day, Irvine, California; for Defendant-Appellee.

          Before: Richard R. Clifton, Sandra S. Ikuta, and Michelle T. Friedland, Circuit Judges.

         SUMMARY [*]

         Fair Credit Reporting Act

         The panel affirmed the district court's summary judgment in favor of defendant Experian Information Solutions, Inc., in an action under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

         A credit repair organization sent letters to Experian, a consumer reporting agency, on behalf of plaintiff, asserting that several items in plaintiff's credit file were incorrect and asking Experian to conduct a reinvestigation to verify the items' accuracy.

         The panel held that, under 15 U.S.C. § 1681i, Experian was not required to initiate a reinvestigation because plaintiff did not "directly" notify it of the disputed items. In addition, Experian did not act unreasonably in violation of § 1681e(b).

          OPINION

          CLIFTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff-Appellant Trinity Warner appeals the district's court's order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee Experian Information on Warner's claims that Experian violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Those claims arise out of a series of letters that Go Clean Credit LLC, a credit repair organization, sent to Experian on Warner's behalf. The letters asserted that several items in Warner's credit file were incorrect and asked Experian to conduct a reinvestigation to verify the items' accuracy. Warner played no role in drafting the letters, and he did not review them before they were mailed. As a result, Warner never confirmed that the disputes presented to Experian by Go Clean Credit were legitimate.

         After receiving the letters sent by Go Clean Credit, Experian informed Warner that it would not take further action unless he personally contacted Experian. Warner now asserts that Experian's refusal to reinvestigate violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Experian, on the other hand, argues it did not have to reinvestigate because Warner did not communicate with Experian directly.

         We agree with Experian. 15 U.S.C. § 1681i is the relevant statutory provision. It requires consumer reporting agencies to reinvestigate disputed items in a consumer's credit file if the consumer notifies the agency of the dispute "directly." 15 U.S.C. § 1681i. Because Warner played no part in drafting, finalizing, or sending the letters Go Clean Credit sent to Experian on his behalf, those letters did not come directly from him. Consequently, under Section 1681i, Experian was not required to ...


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