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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

9th Circuit affirms judgment for defendant in FCRA suit

Courts Appellate Ninth Circuit FCRA Consumer Reporting Agency Disclosures

Courts

On March 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal in favor of a consumer reporting agency (defendant). The suit accused the defendant of violating the FCRA by failing to disclose certain information about a consumer. The plaintiffs were originally part of a class action alleging FCRA disclosure violations against the defendant, but that case was dismissed. Instead of appealing the suit, three plaintiffs brought a separate proposed class action. The defendant removed the case to federal court and filed a motion to dismiss based on a failure to state a claim. Though the case was again dismissed, the plaintiffs were granted leave to amend their complaint. In their First Amended Complaint, the plaintiffs argued that under the FCRA, the disclosures they received from the defendant did not include, among other things: (i) behavioral data; (ii) “soft inquiries” not initiated by the consumer; (iii) the identity of parties procuring consumer reports; and (iv) the date on which employment data was reported. The district court found that the defendant was not obligated to include the behavioral data in its disclosure since the information alleged to have not been disclosed was not part of the consumer’s “file” under the FCRA and was not information that was or might be furnished in a consumer report.

On appeal, the 9th Circuit noted that “none of the information [the plaintiffs] contend [the defendant] failed to disclose is of the type that has been included in a consumer report in the past or is planned to be included in such a report in the future.” The appellate court also noted that “the date employment dates were reported can have no ‘bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal, characteristics, or mode of living.’” Since the district court found that the data that the consumers alleged the defendants failed to include in its disclosures is actually not subject to disclosure under the FCRA, the appellate court affirmed the district court’s dismissal.

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