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Humphrey v. Trans Union LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

April 17, 2017

IAN HUMPHREY, Plaintiff,
v.
TRANS UNION LLC, NAVIENT SOLUTIONS, LLC, EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES LLC, and EXPERIAN INFORMATION SOLUTIONS INC., [1] Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON District Judge.

         Plaintiff Ian Humphrey brings claims against several consumer reporting agencies- Trans Union, LLC, Equifax Information Services LLC, and Experian Information Solutions Inc.-and his former loan servicer, Navient Solutions, LLC, for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. Humphrey alleges that Navient misreported to the consumer reporting agencies that he had failed to make required payments on his student loan accounts. As a result, the consumer reporting agencies reported inaccurate information about Humphrey.

         Now Trans Union has moved for judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Dkt. 36. The court has already granted Experian's motion to adopt and join Trans Union's motion, Dkt. 38 and Dkt. 39, and the court will grant Experian's motion to adopt and join Trans Union's reply brief, Dkt. 43, and Equifax's motion to adopt and join Trans Union's motion, Dkt. 50. Thus, the motion is brought, in effect, on behalf of all three consumer reporting agency defendants.

         Humphrey's real issue is with Navient; he does not have any actionable claims against the consumer reporting agencies, so the court will grant their motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court will for the most part deny the various motions that Humphrey has filed since the parties completed briefing on the Rule 12(c) motion.

         ALLEGATIONS OF FACT

         The court draws the following facts from Humphrey's second amended complaint, Dkt. 29, accepting them as true for purposes of the motion for judgment on the pleadings. Finch v. Peterson, 622 F.3d 725, 728 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Humphrey had student loans; Navient serviced the loans. In August 2011, Navient sent Humphrey an “expired” Total Permanent Disability Discharge application form, presumably because Humphrey intended to apply for the discharge and requested the necessary forms. It is unclear what “expired” means in this context; the court infers that the application form was somehow defective. And so Navient denied Humphrey's application on October 23, 2011, for that reason. Around eight or nine months later, Humphrey called Navient and complained that it had sent him an expired application form. Apparently this phone call accomplished little, because Navient sent Humphrey a second expired application form. Humphrey called Navient a second time, and Navient assured Humphrey that it would accept his application. But Navient denied Humphrey's second application on November 26, 2012. A year or so later, Humphrey and Navient engaged in some type of alternative dispute resolution, via the Department of Education Ombudsman Group. On June 5, 2014, the Department of Education approved Humphrey's Total Permanent Disability Discharge application, “for identical reasons, and on [the] same physicians' credentials, [as] were previously denied.” Dkt. 29, ¶ 19.

         Since then, Navient has reported and continues to report to consumer reporting agencies that Humphrey did not make required payments from September through December 2012 and July through December 2013. Humphrey alleges that, “[o]n information and belief, the Derogatory Information was false, as Humphrey was not required to make payments to Navient during the 120-day period after he notified them of his intent to file a discharge application nor during Navient's review period.” Id. ¶ 21. Humphrey disputed the reports of non-payment with Navient; Navient stood by the information it reported. Humphrey also disputed the reports with the consumer reporting agencies-Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian (CRAs)-and the agencies reported the disputes to Navient. Navient responded by validating all loan items. The CRAs continued to report the “derogatory information.”

         Humphrey requested that the CRAs “reinvestigate” the non-payment issue and asked for information regarding how each verified the information. Humphrey summarily alleges that, “[o]n information and belief, [the CRAs] did not conduct a reasonable investigation into the accuracy of [their] reporting of Humphrey's accounts with Navient.” Id. ¶¶ 30, 32, 34. Humphrey continued to dispute the non-payment issue with defendants in 2015.

         Humphrey brings claims against the CRAs for willful and negligent violations of the FCRA for “failing to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information in consumer reports, ” failing to comply with the FCRA's reinvestigation requirements, and failing to give Humphrey his credit file. Id. ¶¶ 71, 79. Humphrey brings claims against Navient for failing to investigate the information it reported, failing to review all information it received from the CRAs, failing to report the results of its investigation to the CRAs, failing to report that the information is supplied was inaccurate, and failing to modify, delete, or permanently block the inaccurate information.

         The court has subject matter jurisdiction over Humphrey's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, because they arise under federal law.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Motion for judgment on the pleadings

         The CRAs have moved for judgment on the pleadings as to all of Humphrey's claims against them. The court will grant judgment on the pleadings “[o]nly when it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts to support a claim for relief and the moving party demonstrates that there are no material issues of fact to be resolved.” Moss v. Martin, 473 F.3d 694, 698 (7th Cir. 2007). The court reviews motions for judgment on the pleadings under the same standard as motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, although under Rule 12(c) the court considers all pleadings, not just the complaint. N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City of S. Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998). “The essence of the motion is not that the plaintiff has pleaded insufficient facts, it is that even assuming all of her facts are accurate, she has no legal claim.” Brown v. Pick 'N Save Food Stores, 138 F.Supp.2d 1133, 1136-37 (E.D. Wis. 2001) (citing Payton v. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Med. Ctr., 184 F.3d 623, 627 (7th Cir. 1999)).

         Before we turn to the merits, Humphrey requests oral argument on the pending 12(c) issues. Humphrey contends that oral argument is necessary “for the Court to determine whether Humphrey's allegations deal with factual inaccuracies in Trans Union's and Experian's reporting.” Dkt. 44, at 1. But as explained, Rule 12(c) considers the legal sufficiency of Humphrey's claims as plead. The parties had the opportunity to fully brief the salient issues, and the court will not entertain oral argument simply to allow Humphrey a second opportunity to make his case. Humphrey has not explained why oral argument is necessary; he reiterates his Rule 12(c) arguments and states that “Trans Unions and Experian should not be permitted the chance to win dismissal without defending their errant ...


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