Bleynat v. Trans Union, LLC, WD NC

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Bleynat v. Trans Union, LLC, WD NC

Postby Administrator » Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:35 pm

At issue in this case is whether an individual plaintiff, rather than the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), can seek declaratory and injunctive relief under the FCRA.

Although the Fourth Circuit has not yet addressed the issue, the Fifth Circuit has held that private litigants do not have a right to declaratory and injunctive relief under the FCRA. See Washington v. CSC Credit Services, Inc., 199 F.3d 263 (5th Cir.2000) (holding that “the affirmative grant of power to the FTC to pursue injunctive relief, coupled with the absence of a similar grant to private litigants when they are expressly granted the right to obtain damages and other relief, persuasively demonstrates that Congress vested the power to obtain injunctive relief solely with the FTC”). As the Magistrate Judge correctly noted [Doc. 44 at 3–4], Washington has been widely followed by the federal district courts, in this District as well as elsewhere in the Fourth Circuit. See, e.g. Domonoske v. Bank of Am., 705 F.Supp.2d 515, 518 (W.D.Va.2010); Jarrett v. Bank of Am., 421 F.Supp.2d 1350, 1353 (D.Kan.2006); White v. First Am. Registry, Inc., 378 F.Supp.2d 419, 424 (S.D.N.Y.2005); Kaplan v. Experian, Inc., No. 09–10047, 2010 WL 2163824, at *4 (E.D.Mich. May 26, 2010); Pugh v.. Gen. Elec. Co., No. 2:10cv221–ID, 2010 WL 2629511, at *3–4 (M.D.Ala. Jun. 29, 2010); Daniels v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc ., No. 109–017, 2009 WL 1811548, at *4 (S.D.Ga. Jun. 24, 2009); McCullough v. Trans Union LLC, No. 3:06cv432–W, 2006 WL 3780536, at *3 (W.D.N.C. Dec. 21, 2006) (Whitney, J.).

*3 The Plaintiff argues that Washington was wrongly decided, relying principally on Beaudry v. Telecheck Services, Inc. 579 F .3d 702 (6th Cir.2009), cert. denied, 130 S.Ct. 2379, 176 L.Ed.2d 768 (2010). In Beaudry, the Sixth Circuit declined to resolve the issue of whether injunctive relief is available to individual litigants under the FCRA, instead choosing to “save its resolution for another day.” Beaudry, 579 F.3d at 709. As such, the opinions expressed by the Sixth Circuit on this issue are merely dicta. Although it declined to rule on the issue directly, the Beaudry court expressed doubt as to the Fifth Circuit's conclusion that injunctive relief is not available to individual litigants under the FCRA. See id. ( “Washington may be right, and the district court thus may have been right to rely on it. But the answer is not free from doubt.”). Specifically, the Beaudry court noted that the Supreme Court in Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682, 705, 99 S.Ct. 2545, 61 L.Ed.2d 176 (1979), had held that absent “the clearest command to the contrary from Congress,” district courts are assumed to have authority to issue injunctions in cases over which they have jurisdiction. Beaudry, 579 F.3d at 709 (citation omitted). The Washington court, however, expressly considered Califano and, upon examining the language of the FCRA, concluded that “Congress clearly and unambiguously limited the court's equity jurisdiction under the FCRA” so as to preclude injunctive relief for private litigants. Washington, 199 F.3d at 268. For these reasons, the Court concludes that the dicta of Beaudry is not persuasive. The Plaintiff's objections on this point are, therefore, overruled. FN1

FN1. The Plaintiff also highlights the Beaudry court's criticism that Washington relies mostly on cases decided before the FCRA was amended in 1996. [Doc. 45 at 6]. Beaudry's criticism of Washington on this point, however, concerned the latter court's conclusions regarding the availability of statutory damages under the FCRA, not injunctive relief. See Beaudry, 579 F.3d at 707. Because the present case involves only the issue of injunctive relief, the Plaintiff fails to show how this criticism is relevant to the instant case.

The Plaintiff further urges the Court to allow injunctions on policy grounds in order to give FCRA plaintiffs an efficient and effective way of pursuing their claims and avoiding further damages. [Doc. 45 at 9]. The Plaintiff's policy arguments, however, are foreclosed by the statutory language of the FCRA, which evidences a clear intention on the part of Congress to preclude private litigants to seek injunctive and other equitable relief under the FCRA. FN2 Accordingly, the Plaintiff's objection is without merit.

FN2. Even without the availability of injunctive relief, however, such litigants are not left without any redress for their injuries, as an injured party may still pursue actual and punitive monetary damages under the FCRA.

Bleynat v. Trans Union, LLC
Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2012 WL 2576646
July 03, 2012
David A. Szwak
Bodenheimer, Jones & Szwak, LLC
416 Travis Street, Suite 1404, Mid South Tower
Shreveport, Louisiana 71101
318-424-1400 / Fax 221-6555
President, Bossier Little League
Chairman, Consumer Protection Section, Louisiana State Bar Association

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