Part four. . .
Continued to part five - should be the last.B. FCRA Claims Under Section 1681c(d)(1)
Ms. Childress alleges that Experian violated § 1681c(d)(1) of the FCRA by failing to report her bankruptcy as "withdrawn" as opposed to "dismissed" on her credit report. Section 1681c(d)(1) provides:
Any consumer reporting agency that furnishes a consumer report that contains information regarding any case involving the consumer that arises under Title 11 shall include in the report an identification of the chapter of such Title 11 under which such case arises if provided by the source of the information. If any case arising or filed under Title 11 is withdrawn by the consumer before a final judgment, the consumer reporting agency shall include in the report that such case or filing was withdrawn upon receipt of documentation certifying such withdrawal. 15 U.S.C.A. § 1681c(d)(1). Ms. Childress challenges Experian's reporting procedures with respect to the latter portion of this provision, which requires that a CRA include in a consumer's credit report that a bankruptcy petition was withdrawn prior to final judgment "upon receipt of documentation certifying such withdrawal." She argues that the information received from Lexis allows Experian to make such a determination at the outset, and the failure to include such a notation is a willful violation of the FCRA.
Ms. Childress has not cited to any relevant law in support of her argument that § 1681c should be interpreted in the manner that she argues. Just as she failed to cite to relevant factual evidence, her brief is devoid of actual legal analysis and citations to legal authority to support her interpretation of the statute, or to refute Experian's interpretation. Ms. Childress's arguments merely rely upon what Experian "should know" the definition of certain terms to be, as well as dictionary definitions. It is well-settled under Seventh Circuit law that "perfunctory and undeveloped arguments, and arguments that are unsupported by pertinent authority, are waived." Judge v. Quinn, 612 F.3d 537, 557 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting United States v. Holm, 326 F.3d 872, 877 (7th Cir. 2003)). "It is not the obligation of this court to research and construct legal arguments open to parties, especially when they are represented by counsel." Id.
Based upon the facts presented by Experian, the Court finds that Experian's reporting procedures are reasonable and do not violate the FCRA. Section 1681e(b) states 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." 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b).
This does not require that the CRA institute unreasonable procedures just to ensure greater accuracy, contrary to Ms. Childress's arguments. Ms. Childress does not provide any support for her argument that the procedures used by Experian and Lexis are unreasonable, given the volume of data they must collect on millions of consumers. A Lexis representative testified that the variations in the bankruptcy docket entries from court to court render it impossible to devise a universal software program that could accurately discern the basis upon which a case was dismissed. Lexis Dep. It would be unreasonable to require Lexis or Experian to review each of the millions of bankruptcy dockets, often having to look at the filings themselves, to make a factual and legal determination as to whether a case was voluntarily or involuntarily dismissed with the degree of accuracy required by the FCRA. Lexis Dep. 96:10-22, 100:25-103:3, 105:22-106:6. Ms. Childress merely speculates that her proffered analysis is feasible, or even possible. See Liu v. T & H Mach., Inc., 191 F.3d 790, 796 (7th Cir. 1999) ("A party must present more than mere speculation or conjecture to defeat a summary judgment motion.")
Noting that a bankruptcy case was "dismissed" on a consumer's credit report is an accurate statement; a petitioner must file a voluntary motion to dismiss, which is granted by the bankruptcy court. See 11 U.S.C.A. § 1307(b) ("On request of the debtor at any time, if the case has not been converted under section 706, 1112, or 1208 of this title, the court shall dismiss a case under this chapter."). Thus, reporting a case as "dismissed" is an accurate statement regarding the case's disposition. So long as what a CRA reports on a consumer's credit report is accurate, there is no need to inquire into whether the CRA's procedures are reasonable. Grays v. Trans Union Credit Info. Co., 759 F. Supp. 390, 393 (N.D. Ohio 1990). The fact that a credit report could be "more accurate" does not render it inaccurate for purposes of finding liability under § 1681 the FCRA. See Tracy v. Credit Bureau, Inc., of Ga., 330 S.E.2d 921, 923 (Ga. 1985) ("if the specific credit information that is actually reported is itself factually accurate, the report does not become inaccurate and actionable simply because a more detailed explanation of the reported fact might have been but was not included.").
The Court finds that Experian does comply with § 1681c(d)(1) with its current procedures of noting a consumer's records upon receiving additional documentation indicating that the petition was voluntarily dismissed, and that no violation occurred with respect to Ms. Childress's credit report. Ms. Childress argues that Experian could have determined that her petition was voluntarily dismissed when she submitted her first dispute back in 2009; however, she provides no citations or evidence to support this assertion. In addition, Ms. Childress's request in 2009 was to remove reference to her bankruptcy in its entirety, not to note that the bankruptcy petition had been voluntarily dismissed. With regard to her second request in 2012, she did not provide any documentation to Experian as required. Given that it would be unreasonable to expect Experian to determine whether a bankruptcy petition was voluntarily dismissed upon the initial receipt of data from Lexis, it necessarily follows that Experian would need to receive some additional documentation—from the consumer or otherwise— demonstrating that fact. This interpretation is consistent with the language of § 1681c(d)(1), which requires a CRA to note a case as withdrawn "upon receipt" of documentation, and § 1681e(b), which states that procedures must only be "reasonable."
For these reasons, the Court finds that Experian's procedures for reporting dismissed claims on consumers' credit reports do not violate the FCRA, and no reasonable jury could find that Experian violated the FCRA in Ms. Childress's case in particular. Therefore, summary judgment on Ms. Childress's claims for violations of § 1681c(d)(1) is GRANTED..