In a recent Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) case, Mohammad Babar v. Screening Reports, Inc., the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey granted defendant, Screening Reports, Inc.’s, motion for judgment on the pleadings, dismissing plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice. Joseph Messer & Katherine Olson of Messer Strickler, Ltd. represented Screening Reports, Inc., with the assistance of local counsel.
In the lawsuit, plaintiff sought to recover from Screening Reports, Inc., for a willful violation of Section 1681e(b) of the FCRA, which provides that “[w]henever a consumer reporting agency prepares a consumer report it shall follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates.” To prove a willful violation of Section 1681e(b), a plaintiff must establish, among other things, that the defendant prepared a report which was inaccurate. Plaintiff alleged that defendant inaccurately reported an “eviction record match” on his credit report. Plaintiff admitted that he was involved in the eviction action but alleged that he was never evicted because the action was dismissed without prejudice.
Screening Reports, Inc. moved pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) for judgment on the pleadings arguing that it could not be found liable under Section 1681e(b) because it provided an accurate report. The Court reviewed the report, which defendant had attached to its Answer to the Complaint, and found that judgment on the pleadings was warranted. Specifically, the Court relied on the report’s decision detail, which required any and all eviction actions filed against the plaintiff in the past 84 months be reported. Accordingly, the plaintiff need not have been actually evicted for an eviction action to appear on his report. Importantly, the Court also found that the eviction action was captioned in the report as “DSM W/O PR 1-5-12.” The Court held that with this caption, the report clarified that while an eviction proceeding was filed against plaintiff, it was dismissed without prejudice. As the plaintiff admitted that the eviction action was filed against him and dismissed without prejudice, the report was accurate. Because the report was accurate, Plaintiff could not establish a violation of § 1681e(b), and the Court dismissed the complaint with prejudice.