BABAR v. SCREENING REPORTS,INC.
OPINION. Signed by Judge William J. Martini on 4/21/14. (gh, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civ. No. 2:14-1310 (WJM)
SCREENING REPORTS, INC.,
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.:
This Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) matter comes before the Court on
an unopposed motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(c). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff Mohammad Babar alleges that two apartment buildings rejected his
rental applications based on an “eviction record match” in a credit report (“the
Report”) furnished by Defendant Screening Reports, Inc. (“Screening”). Compl.
¶¶ 9, 17, ECF No. 1-1. Babar admits that he was involved in a landlord/tenant
action that was dismissed without prejudice, but he maintains that he was never
evicted. Id. ¶¶ 7-8, 12. Babar represents that Screening refused to correct the
Report after he informed Screening that he had never been evicted. Id. ¶¶ 15-16.
In the instant suit, Babar seeks to recover against Screening for a willful
violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b) (“Section 1681e(b)”), which provides that
“[w]henever a consumer reporting agency prepares a consumer report it shall
follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the
information concerning the individual about whom the report relates.” To prove a
willful violation of Section 1681e(b), Babar must establish, among other things,
that the Report was inaccurate. Cortex v. Trans Union, LLC, 617 F.3d 668, 708,
721 (3d Cir. 2010); see also Eller v. Trans Union, LLC, 739 F.3d 467, 473 (10th
Cir. 2013) (recognizing that plaintiffs must prove the inaccuracy of a credit report
to state a claim under Section 1681e(b)).
Screening now moves pursuant to Rule 12(c) for judgment on the pleadings,
arguing that it cannot be liable under 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b) because it provided an
accurate report. Having reviewed the actual Report, which Screening attached to
its answer, see Leone v. Twp. of Deptford, No. 8-1043, 2009 WL 2878537, at *4
(D.N.J. Sept. 3, 2009) (recognizing that courts are free to consider documents
attached to the pleadings for purposes of a Rule 12(c) motion), the Court finds that
judgment on the pleadings is warranted.
The Report begins with a brief checklist with the heading “Decision Detail.”
Ans., Ex. A, ECF No. 5-1. One of the items on the checklist is “No evictions filed
within 84 months.” There is a large “X” next to this entry. Accordingly, the
Report indicates that evictions were filed against Babar within the last 84 months.
Later on, the Report has a section called “Eviction Records,” which contains a
single entry: “Empire Prop.” Beneath the words “Empire Prop,” the Report
contains the following caption: “DSM W/O PR 1-5-12.” Id. With this caption, the
Report clarifies that while an eviction proceeding was filed against Babar, it was
dismissed without prejudice.
Babar admits in the Complaint that his
“landlord/tenant action” was dismissed without prejudice. As such, the Report was
accurate. Because the Report was accurate, Babar has failed to establish a
violation of Section 1681e(b), and the Court will DISMISS the Complaint WITH
/s/ William J. Martini
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
Date: April 21, 2014
“A report is inaccurate when it is ‘patently incorrect’ or when it is ‘misleading in
such a way and to such an extent that it can be expected to [have an] adverse [ ]’
effect.” Dalton v. Capital Associated Industries, Inc., 257 F.3d 409, 415 (4th Cir.
2001) (quoting Sepulvado v. CSC Credit Servs., 158 F.3d 890, 895 (5th Cir.
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