United States District Court, D. Maryland
JONATHAN T. ALSTON Plaintiff, pro se
TRIDENT ASSET MANAGEMENT, LLC, et al. Defendants.
J. MESSITTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Jonathan Alston has sued Trident Asset
Management, LLC ("Trident") and Trans Union, LLC
("Trans Union") (hereinafter, collectively
"Defendants") in connection with a debt he
purportedly owed to Verizon Communications
("Verizon") for unreturned television equipment and
associated fees. Alston claims that Trident, which he says
acquired the debt from Verizon, attempted to collect the $1,
390.81 debt from him in violation of the Fair Credit
Reporting Act (the "FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681,
et seq. Alston also claims that Trans Union reported
the debt inaccurately on his credit report, also violating
Trident has moved for summary judgment as to the remaining
claims in Alston's Complaint. ECF No. 25. For the
following reasons, the Court will GRANT
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
case concerns the same debt at issue in another case in which
Jonathan Alston is the plaintiff, Alston v. Orion
Portfolio Services, LLC el at, Civ. No. PJM-16-3697.
Alston's allegations in the two cases are nearly
states in his Complaint in this case that he obtained a
credit report from Trans Union and discovered a collection
account reported by Trident that indicated that he owed $1,
391 to Verizon for utility services. ECF No. 2
("Complaint") ¶¶ 5-6. Alston says he
disputed the Trident collection account with Trans Union
sometime in June 2016, but he does not identify the method
through which he conveyed this fact to Trans Union.
Id. ¶ 7. Alston says that Trans Union
subsequently forwarded his dispute to Trident, which he
alleges improperly verified the accuracy of the debt, despite
evidence to the contrary. Id. ¶ 8. Alston
claims that Trans Union informed him of the results of
Trident's investigation sometime in July 2016.
Id. ¶ 9.
August 22, 2016, Alston purportedly contacted Trident by
phone to dispute the debt. Id. ¶10. He says he
was told that Trident would send him a letter providing a
breakdown of how the $1, 391 was calculated. Id.
says he called Trident again on August 25, 2016. Id.
¶ 16. He says that a Trident representative informed him
that the debt had been considered '"disputed"
as of his August 22 call. Id. ¶ 14. He also
says that Trident told him it did not know whether he had
returned the Verizon television equipment that was the cause
of the debt, nor did Trident know whether Alston had incurred
any additional charges related to that equipment.
goes on to say that on August 29, 2016. he sent a dispute
letter to Trans Union, challenging the claim. Id.
¶ 15. He also says he sent a contemporaneous letter
directly to Trident. Id. ¶ 16. The letters
purportedly disputed the fact that Trident or Orion had
acquired the account from Verizon, or that $1, 390.81 was
owed on the account, or that Alston owed $742.00 for FIOS TV
equipment and $648.81 for past due charges. Id.
¶¶ 17-20. Even so, says Alston, Trident continued
its debt collection activity, reporting the debt to Trans
Union prior to providing Alston with validation of the debt
in September 2016. Id. ¶¶ 21-23.
claims that Trident is improperly reporting the debt as
resolved and no longer in dispute. Id. ¶ 28. He
says he submitted two additional disputes to Trans Union,
which, he says, informed him in December 2017 that Trident
had again verified the amount of the debt, had indicated that
no changes would be made as to how the debt would be
reported, and had again indicated that it found no notation
that the collection account was disputed. Id. ¶
31. Alston alleges that Trans Union blindly reported the
results of Trident's investigation into the debt, despite
failing to conduct its own investigation and knowing that
Trident's investigation relied on inaccurate. incomplete,
and unverified information. Id. ¶¶ 34-38.
about January 10, 2018. Alston filed a Complaint in the
Circuit Court for Baltimore City, ECF No. 2, which Defendants
removed to this Court on February 26, 2018. ECF No. 1. The
Complaint alleges five Counts of FCRA violations, two against
Trans Union, and three against Trident. ECF No. 2. On
November 20, 2018, Alston and Trans Union filed a joint
stipulation stating that all matters between them had been
settled. ECF No. 20. The Court subsequently dismissed Trans
Union from the case. ECF No. 22. Trident remained in the
December 27. 2018. Trident filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment as to all claims Alston made against it in his
Complaint. ECF No. 25. Alston filed his Opposition on January
22, 2019, ECF No. 27, which Trident moved to strike on the
grounds that it was not timely. ECF No. 28. Trident also
filed its Reply to Alston's Opposition on February 1,
2019. ECF No. 29.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 56(a), "[t]he-court shall grant summary judgment if
the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.'' Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). This does not
mean, however, that "some alleged factual dispute
between the parties" defeats the motion for summary
judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original). Rather, "the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact.'" Id. (emphasis in
original). Once the party moving for summary judgment has
properly filed evidence supporting its motion, the burden
shifts to the nonmoving party to submit specific facts