Judge Grants MSJ For Defendant in FCRA Case Over Disputed Debts

In a case that was defended by Ethan Ostroff and the team at Troutman Pepper, a District Court judge in Georgia has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Credit Reporting Act case in one of those unfortunate situations where an individual gets hung up while waiting for insurance payments to cover a debt.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Wilson v. Suntrust Bank can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff took out a loan to buy a used car. The car was involved in an accident while the plaintiff was still making payments on the loan. The plaintiff’s insurance company made two payments covering most of what was owed on the loan, leaving a balance of $964.57. The plaintiff stopped making payments on the balance and it was reported as delinquent to the credit reporting agencies. Five months later, the plaintiff’s insurer made another payment, covering the unpaid balance. The plaintiff disputed the delinquent debt entries on his credit reports with the credit reporting agencies. Investigations were conducted and the information being furnished was deemed to be accurate.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the defendant violated the FCRA by furnishing inaccurate information.

Unfortunately for the plaintiff, his argument is a legal one and not a factual one, which is something that the FCRA can not help him with, ruled Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The fact that the plaintiff believed he did not have to keep making payments on his car after it was totaled is not a question for the FCRA. The plaintiff did not make payments on the balance when he was required to do so, which means the defendant was justified in reporting the debt as delinquent, Judge Godbey Wood ruled. “The dispute at the heart of this action is thus one of interpretation of the Contract: was Plaintiff contractually obligated to continue making monthly payments on his loan after his insurance company paid two lump sums to Defendant? The answer to this question is clearly one of legal interpretation and not one of factual accuracy,” she wrote in her ruling.

And, even if the plaintiff could show the defendant violated the FCRA, he never claimed in his complaint to have suffered any damages as a result of the defendant’s actions, Judge Godbey Wood noted.

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