1681i[c]: Guimond v. Trans Union

David A. Szwak

1681i[c]: Guimond v. Trans Union

Postby David A. Szwak » Mon Jan 09, 2006 7:02 pm

Guimond v. Trans Union Credit Information Co.
45 F.3d 1329
C.A.9 (Cal.),1995.
Jan 19, 1995

Trans Union is a consumer credit reporting agency which maintained a consumer credit report for Guimond. Trans Union does not dispute Guimond's recitation of the facts. [FN1] Instead, Trans Union claims that liability cannot be predicated on those facts as a matter of law.

FN1. At oral argument, Trans Union's counsel claimed Guimond never ordered a credit report. There is absolutely no evidence on the record to support this claim. Indeed, the only evidence is Guimond's affidavit which states that she ordered such a report.

In October of 1989, Guimond became aware of and notified Trans Union of certain inaccuracies contained in her credit report. Specifically, the report incorrectly indicated *1332 that she was married, listed a social security for this non-existent spouse, indicated that she was also known as "Ruth Guimond", and erroneously stated that she had a credit card from Saks Fifth Avenue.
On November 10, 1989, Trans Union responded to Guimond's letter, stating that the erroneous information disputed by her had been removed. However, on March 29, 1990, Trans Union again published the erroneous information which it purportedly had removed.
Guimond then requested the source of the erroneous information from Trans Union. On April 28, 1990, Trans Union stated that it could not disclose the identity of the source of the disputed information because it did not know the source of the information. The disputed information was eventually removed from Guimond's file on October 25, 1990. No credit was denied to Guimond as a result of the inaccuracies in her credit file.
Guimond filed her complaint on January 10, 1992 alleging violations of the FCRA and the CCRAA. Specifically, Guimond claimed that Trans Union negligently and willfully 1) violated 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b); 2) violated 15 U.S.C. § 1681g(a)(2); 3) violated 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(c); and 4) violated California Civil Code § 1785.1 et seq. Guimond claimed damages for: 1) fees collected by Trans Union for disclosure of source information, 2) lost opportunities, i.e. she had been deterred from applying for credit during the months pending resolution of this matter, [FN2] and 3) emotional distress, manifested by sleeplessness, nervousness, frustration, and mental anguish resulting from the incorrect information in her credit report.

FN2. Plaintiff's counsel elaborated on this damage theory at oral arguments. Guimond claims she was deterred from applying for credit
because she knew that her credit file contained blatant inaccuracies which would affect her ability to get credit--i.e., the file stated that she had a spouse, which, according to the social security number, was also her son, and it listed an extra social security number. Since Guimond has a right to apply for credit, her counsel argued she suffered damages as a result of Trans Union's conduct because she was deterred from exercising that right.

Trans Union argues that it was not required to identify the source of the erroneous social security number and alias because these items were mere identifying indicia, the genesis of which need not be disclosed under § 1681g. Not only is there no support for this proposition, but it does not dispose of Guimond's claims with respect to the source of the misinformation regarding a Saks Fifth Avenue Credit card. Accordingly, we reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment on Guimond's claims under this provision and remand the issue for application of the facts to this legal standard.
III. Violations of 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(c)
[12] 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(c) states:
(c) Notification of consumer dispute in subsequent consumer reports. Whenever a statement of dispute is filed, unless there is reasonable grounds to believe that it is frivolous or irrelevant, the consumer reporting agency shall, in any subsequent consumer report containing the information in question, clearly note that it is disputed by the consumer and provide either the consumer's statement or a clear and accurate codification or summary thereof.
The district court granted Trans Union's motion for summary judgment after adopting Trans Union's position: "since, under the FCRA there must first be an intervening reinvestigation between the dispute of an item of information and the placement of a *1335 statement on file," Trans Union was not liable absent reinvestigation.
In order to interpret § 1681i(c), it is necessary to look at the two preceeding subsections:
(a) Dispute; Reinvestigation. If the completeness or accuracy of any such item of information contained in his file is disputed by a consumer, and such dispute is directly conveyed to the consumer reporting agency ..., the consumer reporting agency shall ... reinvestigate ... that information.... If after such reinvestigation such information is found to be inaccurate or can no longer be verified, the consumer reporting agency shall promptly delete such information....
(b) Statement of dispute. If the reinvestigation does not resolve the dispute, the consumer may file a brief statement setting forth the nature of the dispute. The consumer reporting agency may limit such statements to not more than one hundred words if it provides the consumer with assistance in writing a clear summary of the dispute.
Since a statement of dispute under § 1681i(b) need only be filed if the reinvestigation provided for in § 1681i(a) does not resolve the consumer's complaint, the district court was correct in concluding that reinvestigation is a predicate to the filing of a statement of dispute, and hence that statement's inclusion in any consumer report.
Accordingly, in order to prove Trans Union's liability under § 1681i(c), Guimond must show that she disputed an item in her file and that any reinvestigation conducted by Trans Union did not resolve the dispute. These two elements are established by Guimond's uncontradicted statements in her affidavit--she informed Trans Union that her report contained inaccuracies and Trans Union failed to delete these inaccuracies. However, Guimond must also show that she filed a statement of dispute and that it was not included with subsequent copies of her consumer report. Nowhere has Guimond claimed that she filed a statement of dispute. Indeed, Guimond's complaint seems to state either that 1) Trans Union did not perform any reinvestigation, or 2) after discovering the disputed information was inaccurate, Trans Union did not remove the information from her file--a claim more properly brought under § 1681i(a). As a result, she has not established Trans Union's liability under this section. See Mirocha v. TRW, Inc., 805 F.Supp. 663, 670 (S.D.Ind.1992) (no duty to include a statement of dispute unless such statement was filed by consumer with agency); see also Boothe, 768 F.Supp. at 438 (same). Thus, we affirm the district court's resolution of Appellant's claims under 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(c).

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