United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. RUSSELL, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on three Motions: Defendants
Equifax Inc.'s (“Equifax”) and Equifax
Information Services LLC's (“EIS”)
(collectively, the “Equifax Defendants”) Motion
to Dismiss First Amended Complaint and Brief in Support of
Motion (ECF No. 19); Plaintiff Erien Lois Frazier's
(“Erien”) Motion for Leave to File Second Amended
Complaint and Memorandum of Law in Support (ECF No. 24); and
Defendant Experian Information Solutions, Inc.'s
(“Experian”) Motion to Transfer Related Case (ECF
No. 29). The Motions are ripe for disposition, and
no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md.
2018). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant
Equifax Defendants' Motion, grant Erien's Motion, and
deny Experian's Motion.
September 14, 2017, Erien sent Equifax a written request
for “ALL INFORMATION in [her] consumer
file.” (1st Am. Compl. ¶ 25, ECF No. 16; Compl.
Ex. D, ECF No. 1-5). In Response, Equifax sent her a
“credit report, ” which was “not responsive
to her request.” (1st Am. Compl. ¶ 26). After
receiving a response from Equifax that “did not comply
with the request made, ” Erien sent Equifax a
“second and final request for a full consumer
file disclosure” on October 11, 2017.
(Id. ¶ 31; Compl. Ex. G, ECF No. 1-8). In
response to this request, Equifax again sent her a
“credit report” that was “not responsive to
her request.” (1st Am. Compl. ¶ 34; Pl.'s
Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Dismiss [“Pl.'s
Opp'n”] Ex. A, ECF No. 21-1). She asserts that
Equifax's file on her contains “substantial
information relating to [her] . . . that has not been
disclosed to her.” (1st Am. Compl. ¶ 40).
January 9, 2018, Erien, proceeding pro se, filed the present
action against Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union LLC
(“Trans Union”). (ECF No. 1). Equifax filed a
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint on March 12,
2018. (ECF No. 13). In response, Erien filed a First Amended
Complaint (the “Amended Complaint”) on April 2,
2018, which added EIS as a Defendant. (Mar. 29, 2018 Ltr.,
ECF No. 16-3). In her three-Count Amended Complaint, Erien
alleges that Defendants violated the Fair Credit Reporting
Act (the “FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681g(a)(1)
(2018). (1st Am. Compl. ¶¶ 52-63). Erien seeks
statutory damages, attorney's fees, and costs from each
Defendant. (Id. at 12-13).
Defendants now move to dismiss the claims against them. (ECF
No. 19). On May 7, 2018, Erien filed an Opposition. (ECF No.
21). Equifax Defendants filed a Reply on May 21, 2018. (ECF
August 17, 2018, Erien filed a Motion for Leave to File
Second Amended Complaint and Memorandum of Law in Support.
(ECF No. 24). Equifax Defendants filed an Opposition on
August 31, 2018. (ECF No. 28). To date, the Court has no
record that Erien filed a Reply.
November 1, 2018, Experian filed a Motion to Transfer Related
Case. (ECF No. 29). To date, the Court has no record that any
of the parties filed an Opposition.
Motion to Transfer Related Case
requests that the Court transfer this case to the judge that
is presiding over Joahn Barron Frazier v. Experian
Information Solutions Inc., et al., No. 18-067-JKB
(D.Md. closed Nov. 30, 2018), because it is a related case.
Rule 103.1.b.i provides that a plaintiff may designate a case
as related to another case or cases “previously decided
or pending” if, in relevant part, they: (1)
“arise from the same or identical transactions,
happenings, or events”; (2) “involve the
identical parties or property”; or (3) “for any
other reason would entail substantial duplication of labor if
heard by different judges.” If the plaintiff does not
designate a case as related to a prior case, defense counsel
“shall bring that information to the attention of all
parties and the Clerk.” Local Rule 103.1.b.ii. Any
disputes regarding whether a case is related to another case
“shall be presented by motion to the judge to whom the
new or later case has been assigned.” Local Rule
contends that the cases are related because “both
Plaintiffs make the same factual allegations and assert the
same causes of action against the same Defendants.”
(Mot. Transfer Related Case at 4, ECF No. 29). Experian
maintains that having the same judge resolve both cases would
prevent a duplication of effort and “would avoid
inconsistent results.” (Id.). While Experian
raises valid points, the Court nevertheless declines to
transfer this case for at least three reasons.
even though Joahn and Erien filed similar Complaints that
bring the same causes of action against the same Defendants,
they do not “arise from the same or identical
transactions, happenings, or events.” Local Rule
103.1.b.i. (1). Joahn and Erien sent separate correspondence
to each Defendant and received separate responses. Second,
the cases do not involve identical parties-Joahn and Erien
are different plaintiffs. Moreover, because they are
different individuals, they have their own distinct credit
histories, and, as a result, different information that
Defendants may have failed to disclose. Third, Experian's
concerns over duplicating efforts and avoiding inconsistent
outcomes are unwarranted. The Court has the benefit of this
Court's opinions in Frazier to guide its
decisions in this case.
the Court concludes that a transfer is not warranted.
Accordingly, the Court will deny Experian's Motion.
Motion to Dismiss
Standard of Review
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to “test[ ] the
sufficiency of a complaint, ” not to “resolve
contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.” King v.
Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting
Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th
Cir. 1999)). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does
not contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), or does not “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, ” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is
facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). Though the plaintiff is not required to
forecast evidence to prove the elements of the claim, the
complaint must allege sufficient facts to establish each
element. Goss v. Bank of Am., N.A., 917 F.Supp.2d
445, 449 (D.Md. 2013) (quoting Walters v. McMahen,
684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012)), aff'd sub
nom., Goss v. Bank of Am., NA, 546 Fed.Appx.
165 (4th Cir. 2013).
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must examine the
complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the
complaint as true, and construe the factual allegations in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Albright v.
Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of
Comm'rs of Davidson Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th
Cir. 2005) (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232,
236 (1974)). But, the court need not accept unsupported or
conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to
actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst,
604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979), or legal conclusions
couched as factual allegations, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
pleadings, such as Erien's, are liberally construed and
held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by
lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976));
accord Brown v. N.C. Dep't of Corr., 612 F.3d
720, 722 (4th Cir. 2010). Pro se complaints are entitled to
special care to determine whether any possible set of facts
would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Hughes v.
Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980). Nonetheless,
“[w]hile pro se complaints may ‘represent the
work of an untutored hand requiring special judicial
solicitude,' a district court is not required to
recognize ‘obscure or extravagant claims defying the
most concerted efforts to unravel them.'”
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. for Balt., 901
F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990) (quoting Beaudett v. City
of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277 (4th Cir. 1985)).
Defendants advance two main arguments for dismissing the
First Amended Complaint: (1) Equifax is not a “consumer
reporting agency” (“CRA”) as defined under
the FCRA; and (2) the First Amended Complaint fails to plead
sufficient facts to state a claim under § 1681g of the
FCRA. The Court addresses these arguments in turn.