Lett v. Midland Funding LLC (MAG+)
OPINION. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 11/22/13. (djy, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
MIDLAND FUNDING LLC,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
Plaintiff Rickey Lett filed this lawsuit asserting
that defendant Midland Funding LLC furnished inaccurate
information for his credit report.
This lawsuit is now
before the court on the recommendation of the United
States Magistrate Judge that Midland’s motion to dismiss
Lett’s case should be granted.
Also before the court are
independent and de novo review of the record, the court
concludes that Lett’s objections should be overruled and
the magistrate judge’s recommendation adopted. However,
for the reasons described below, the dismissal motion is
granted without prejudice.
There are three main players in a credit report
dispute like this one.
There is the consumer, in this
There is the consumer reporting agency, which
collects information about consumers to prepare credit
reports and calculate credit scores.
(The three largest
consumer reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian, and
Trans Union.) Finally, there is the information provider,
information to the consumer reporting agency.
case, Lett identifies Midland as the information provider.
The Federal Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et
seq., establishes several responsibilities for information
provider is barred from knowingly providing inaccurate
information and has an obligation to correct information
that it learns to be wrong. 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2 (a)(1) &
Furthermore, the Act establishes a process by which a
consumer can dispute information on his credit report.
the consumer contacts the consumer reporting agency to
dispute within 30 days. § 1681i(a)(1). The agency must
also contact the information provider that was the source
of the disputed information. § 1681i(a)(2). Once the
information provider has been contacted, it also has an
obligation to investigate the dispute and correct any
inaccuracies. § 1681s-2(b).
The Act generally allows consumers to bring private
lawsuits to enforce its terms. §§ 1681n & 1681o.
consumer cannot bring a private lawsuit to enforce the
information provider’s general duties, such as to report
information accurately and to correct errors that come to
its attention. § 1681s-2(c). Those violations can be
enforced only by federal or state regulators. § 1681s.
But the statute does allow a consumer to sue an
information provider in one circumstance: If a consumer
has pointed out a mistake to the consumer reporting agency
and if the information provider fails to investigate or
correct the information, the consumer then has a right to
Montgomery, 141 F. Supp. 2d 1275, 1288-89 (M.D. Ala. 2001)
In other words, the Act gives information providers,
like Midland, a first chance to correct any mistakes
before the consumer is allowed to file a lawsuit. First,
the consumer must contact the consumer reporting agency to
dispute the information.
At that point, both the consumer
investigate the dispute and must correct any mistakes. If
the consumer reporting agency and the information provider
do not investigate and correct any mistakes at that point,
then the consumer is allowed to sue them for any damages
which occur because of their failure to investigate and
correct. (Contacting the information provider directly is
not enough for a consumer to be permitted to sue.
allows a consumer to sue only after he has gone through
the specific process described in § 1681i, namely, first
contacting the consumer reporting agency to dispute the
information. Green v. RBS Nat. Bank, 288 Fed. Appx. 641,
642 (11th Cir. 2008).)
For these reasons, Lett’s complaint does not present
a viable case under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. He does
not plead (nor does he indicate in his objections to the
Magistrate Judge’s recommendation) both that, first, he
contacted a consumer reporting agency to dispute the
information and that, second, Midland subsequently failed
to investigate and correct his credit information.
Therefore, the court will dismiss Lett’s case, albeit
without prejudice. If Lett has already contacted the
reporting agency in the future, he is free to re-file his
lawsuit with a complaint that pleads in factual detail the
nature of the alleged mistake, his communications with the
consumer reporting agency about the mistake, and how the
failure to correct the mistake injured him.
An appropriate judgment will be entered.
DONE, this the 22nd day of November.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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