United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division
WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.
Erien Frazier (the "Plaintiff"), pro se, sued RJM Acquisitions LLC ("RJM" or "the Defendant") for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") and related state law claims. Pending are the Defendant's motion for summary judgment and the Plaintiff's motions to file a surreply and an amended complaint. No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the following reasons, the Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted; the other motions will be denied.
In August 2002, the Defendant, a debt collector, purchased a delinquent Fingerhut account from Fingerhut. ECF No. 17-4 (hereinafter "Matte Decl.) at ¶ 3. Fingerhut communicated to the Defendant that the account was opened by the Plaintiff and provided her last known address. Id. at ¶ 4. The past due balance on the account was $188.28. Id. ; see also ECF No. 17-5 (Email from Fingerhut).
To collect on the account, the Defendant used programs by TransUnion and Experian to obtain updates about the Plaintiff's address and contact information. Id. at ¶¶ 5-6. "[The] Defendant would provide the last known information of the debtor, and the programs would provide address and contact updates." Id. at ¶ 5. "Each time an address is updated through the TransUnion or Experian programs, a soft inquiry' is placed upon the consumer's file within the respective credit bureau's database, letting the consumer know that a creditor has sought [her] contact information...." Id. at ¶ 7. "Soft inquiries" are only viewable by the consumer; they do not affect credit score calculations, and are not seen by potential creditors looking into the consumer's credit history. Id. at ¶ 8.
On March 11, 2011 and February 1 and 10, 2012, the Defendant received contact update reports from TransUnion about the Plaintiff. ECF. No. 18-1 (hereinafter "Frazier Decl.") at ¶ 5. Notices of the soft inquiries were placed on the Plaintiff's consumer file. See ECF No. 1-1. "At no time did [the] Defendant access information regarding [the] Plaintiff through any credit reporting agency for any purpose other than collection of the debt owned by [the] Defendant." Matte Decl. at ¶ 9.
On December 18, 2013, the Plaintiff discovered the soft inquiries by the Defendant. See ECF No. 17-3 at 4. The Plaintiff emailed the Defendant and asserted that the Plaintiff had no outstanding debt with the Defendant. Id.
On January 8, 2014, the Plaintiff, pro se, sued the Defendant for violations of the FCRA and state law claims. ECF No. 1. On August 12, 2014, the Defendant moved for summary judgment. ECF No. 17. On August 29, 2014, the Plaintiff responded. ECF No. 18. On September 11, 2014, the Defendant replied. On December 15, 2014, the Plaintiff moved for leave to file a surreply. ECF No. 24. On February 18, 2015, the Plaintiff moved to file an amended complaint. ECF No. 28.
A. The Plaintiff's Motion to File a Surreply
Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, a party generally may not file a surreply. Local Rule 105.2(a). Leave to file a surreply may be granted when the movant otherwise would be unable to contest matters presented for the first time in the opposing party's reply. Khoury v. Meserve, 268 F.Supp.2d 600, 605 (D. Md. 2003), aff'd, 85 F.Appx. 960 (4th Cir. 2004).
In its reply, the Defendant did not raise a new matter that the Plaintiff needed to address. In her opposition, the Plaintiff asserted that the declarations attached to the motion for summary judgment were not competent evidence. See ECF No. 18 at 4-6. The Defendant responded to this argument in its reply. ECF No. 21 at 1-2. The Plaintiff's surreply merely restates why the Court should not consider the declarations and reiterates her arguments about the Defendant's improper purpose in using TransUnion's system. ECF No. 24. The only new information contained in the surreply is the attachment of the asset purchase agreement between the Defendant and Fingerhut. ECF No. 26. However, the Plaintiff does not explain why the agreement could not have been attached to her original response. See ECF No. 24 at 3. Further, the agreement does not contradict any of the Defendant's factual assertions - if anything, it only bolsters the Defendant's argument that it purchased the Plaintiff's account from Fingerhut. Accordingly, the motion for leave to file a surreply will be denied.
B. The Defendant's Motion for ...