United States District Court, D. Maryland
PHILIP D. BUCHANAN, pro se, Plaintiff,
STATE OF MARYLAND, et al., Defendants.
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
se plaintiff Philip D. Buchanan (“plaintiff”
or “Buchanan”) has filed this action against a
series of defendants for damages based on the alleged
publication of false credit information about him.
(Complaint, ECF No. 1 at 15, 17.) While plaintiff's
original Complaint does not expressly identify the statute,
later filings by plaintiff (ECF Nos. 27, 60, 72) refer to the
Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1681, et seq., as the legal basis for his
claims. As plaintiff's claims appear to be
based on a federal statute, this Court's jurisdiction is
proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
named ten (10) defendants in his original Complaint: the
State of Maryland, the Comptroller of Maryland, Gayle M.
Davis, Investment Retrievers, Experian, Trans Union, Equifax,
AFNI, Inc., AT&T Inc., and Lexis Nexis. (ECF No. 1.) Several
of those defendants now move to dismiss plaintiff's
claims on the grounds that plaintiff has failed to state a
plausible claim against them. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Other
defendants assert that this Court does not properly exercise
jurisdiction over them and, thus, must dismiss
plaintiff's claims against them. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). In
addition, several defendants ask the Court to strike what
have been docketed as plaintiff's amended complaints
because plaintiff did not obtain defendants' or this
Court's permission before filing the
amendments. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).
Finally, one defendant requests that plaintiff provide more
information about his allegations. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e).
parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing
is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). As
set forth in detail below, plaintiff shall be given a final
opportunity to amend his complaint, though certain parties
shall be dismissed from this case.
se plaintiff Philip D. Buchanan filed a Complaint in
July 2016 against ten (10) defendants alleging that
defendants harmed his credit and limited his earning
potential on account of the reporting of erroneous debts on
his credit reports. (ECF No. 1 at 15-16.) The Complaint
refers to three separate debts which Buchanan alleges were
erroneously reported against him. (Id.)
Buchanan alleges that the State of Maryland, through the
Comptroller of Maryland and its agent defendant Gayle M.
Davis, erroneously reported a state tax lien against him in
the amount of $1979.00. (ECF No. 1 at 15.) Plaintiff alleges
that the State of Maryland reported the lien to Lexis Nexis,
and that Lexis Nexis reported the lien to Trans Union.
(Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that the lien was
later reported to Equifax, and, later yet, to Experian,
“in which it remains currently, 9 years later.”
(Id.) Attached to the Complaint is a letter dated
April 25, 2013 from the Comptroller of Maryland to
“Credit Reporting Agency” stating that the lien
issued against Buchanan was vacated and withdrawn on August
16, 2011. (ECF No. 1-1 at 1.) Second, plaintiff alleges that
AT&T “reported the Erroneous debt in 2012” and
sold the “Erroneous Debt to AFNI, Inc. in 2014.”
(Id. at 16.) The Complaint later specifies that the
allegedly erroneous debt amounted to $370.00. (Id.
at 17.) Buchanan alleges that AFNI, Inc. “reported
Erroneous debt to Equifax in 2014” and that
“Equifax re-inserts Erroneous debt.”
(Id. at 16.) Third, Buchanan alleges that defendant
Investment Retrievers “[r]eported another invaled
[sic] debt from NMAC to Equifax, and
Experian.” (ECF No. 1 at 16.) Buchanan appears to
allege that the way in which this debt was reported was in
error. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that all defendants
were “grossly negligent” in their reporting,
resulting in a loss of earnings potential and a continuing,
adverse impact on his “personal, business, and
financial life.” (ECF No. 1 at 17.)
service of plaintiff's Complaint, several defendants
filed timely motions to dismiss; the credit reporting agency
defendants (“CRAs”), Trans Union, Equifax, and
Experian, initially filed answers; and Lexis Nexis Risk
Solutions, Inc. filed a motion for a more definite statement.
Plaintiff then filed an “Addendum” disputing
certain arguments raised by defendants. (ECF No. 27.)
the Motions to Dismiss were pending and without seeking leave
of court, plaintiff filed what was docketed as an amended
complaint on November 7, 2016. (ECF No. 60.) Plaintiff
attached a series of exhibits to the ‘amended
complaint', including a copy of his Experian credit
report, dated June 25, 2015. (Id. at 6.) Several
defendants then moved and/or renewed their motions to dismiss
the ‘amended complaint'. While this latest round of
motions was pending, plaintiff filed what was construed as a
second amended complaint, again without seeking leave of
court. (ECF No. 72.) The filing of the ‘second amended
complaint' prompted several defendants to file motions to
strike plaintiff's latest submission.
Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
challenges a court's authority to hear the matter brought
by a complaint. See Davis v. Thompson, 367 F.Supp.2d
792, 799 (D. Md. 2005). This challenge under Rule 12(b)(1)
may proceed either as a facial challenge, asserting that the
allegations in the complaint are insufficient to establish
subject matter jurisdiction, or a factual challenge,
asserting “that the jurisdictional allegations of the
complaint [are] not true.” Kerns v. United
States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted). A plaintiff carries the burden of establishing
subject matter jurisdiction. Lovern v. Edwards, 190
F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999). With respect to a facial
challenge, a court will grant a motion to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction “where a claim fails to
allege facts upon which the court may base
jurisdiction.” Davis, 367 F.Supp.2d at 799.
Where the challenge is factual, “the district court is
entitled to decide disputed issues of fact with respect to
subject matter jurisdiction.” Kerns, 585 F.3d
at 192. “[T]he court may look beyond the pleadings and
‘the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and
view whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to
determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction
exists.'” Khoury v. Meserve, 268 F.Supp.2d
600, 606 (D. Md. 2003) (citation omitted). The court
“may regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue
and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without
converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.”
Velasco v. Gov't of Indon., 370 F.3d 392, 398
(4th Cir. 2004); see also Sharafeldin v. Md. Dept. of
Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs., 94 F.Supp.2d 680, 684-85 (D.
Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes
the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The
purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is “to test the sufficiency of
a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the
facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses.” Presley v. City of Charlottesville,
464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006); see also Goines v.
Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir.
2016). The sufficiency of a complaint is assessed by
reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), which
provides that a complaint must contain a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.,
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). Under the
plausibility standard, a complaint must contain “more
than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of ...