Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in FCRA Dispute Case

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld a lower court’s ruling in favor of a credit reporting agency that was sued for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act because it did not provide the plaintiffs with the results of a dispute investigation, agreeing with the lower court that the plaintiffs did not challenge that the disputed information was accurate.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Sustrik & Barnum v. Equifax Information Services can be accessed by clicking here.

Both plaintiffs filed for bankruptcy protection and received consumer disclosures from the defendant. The plaintiffs subsequently disputed some of the information included in their credit reports. The defendant investigated the disputes and generated letters to inform the plaintiffs of the results of that investigation, but the plaintiffs contended they never received the letters, as required under Sections 1681i(a)(3)(B) and (a)(6)(A) of the FCRA.

But because the plaintiffs did not show that their disputes contained inaccurate information, a District Court judge granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The plaintiffs appealed that ruling to the Ninth Circuit.

In following the ruling it issued in Carvalho v. Equifax Information Services, the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling because “the FCRA’s
reinvestigation provision, 15 U.S.C. § 1681i, . . . require[s] that an actual inaccuracy exist for a plaintiff to state a claim.”

There is no duty to investigate a dispute, the Ninth Circuit said, when the credit report accurately reflects the status of the information contained in public records.

“Under our precedent, the district court therefore did not
err in holding that this suit failed because there was no genuine dispute that the information in the Plaintiffs’ files was accurate,” the Ninth Circuit wrote in affirming the lower court’s ruling.

Here are the arguments before the Ninth Circuit:

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