United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Clifford Eaton, #12878-074, FCI
Otisville, pro se.
James R. Bedell, Esq., Michael S. Poncin, Esq. and Moss & Barnett, PA, counsel for defendant.
DAVID S. DOTY, District Judge.
This matter is before the court upon the motion for summary judgment by defendant Central Portfolio Control, Inc. (CPC). Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motion.
This credit dispute arises out of a consumer credit report accessed by Central Portfolio Control, Inc. (CPC). CPC is in the business of debt collection. Barrett Supp. Aff. ¶ 1. On January 17, 2012, CPC requested Clifford Eaton's credit report to assist with collecting on a debt that Eaton allegedly owed to Nissan. Id . ¶ 4, 5. Eaton obtained copies of his credit report on April 18, 2012, and June 25, 2012, and discovered that CPC accessed the report. Eaton Decl. ¶¶ 8, 9. On March 17, 2014, Eaton filed this action, alleging violations of the FCRA and intrusion upon seclusion. CPC moves for summary judgment.
I. Standard of Review
"The 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); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material only when its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party. Id. at 252.
On a motion for summary judgment, the court views all evidence and inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Id. at 255. The nonmoving party, however, may not rest upon mere denials or allegations in the pleadings but must set forth specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. A party asserting that a genuine dispute exists - or cannot exist - about a material fact must cite "particular parts of materials in the record." Fed R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). If a plaintiff cannot support each essential element of a claim, the court must grant summary judgment because a complete failure of proof regarding an essential element necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.
II. Fair Credit Reporting Act
Eaton argues that CPC violated § 1682b(f) of the FCRA by accessing his credit report without a permissible purpose. Congress enacted the FCRA "to ensure fair and accurate credit reporting, promote efficiency in the banking system, and protect consumer privacy." Poehl v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 528 F.3d 1093, 1096 (8th Cir. 2008) (quoting Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. v. Burr, 551 U.S. 47, 52 (2007)). An entity may not use or obtain another's credit report unless it is "for a purpose for which the consumer report is authorized to be furnished under this section." 15 U.S.C. §1681b(f). The FCRA is not violated, however, so long as the entity has "a good faith belief that it had a permissible purpose" to access the report. See Barton v. Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, Civ. No. 12-162, 2013 WL 5781324, at *4 (D. Minn. Oct. 25, 2013).
CPC argues that it had a permissible purpose for accessing Eaton's report - to collect on the debt Eaton allegedly owed to Nissan. The court agrees. A debt collector may access a credit report if it "intends to use the information in connection with a credit transaction involving the... collection of an account." 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(a)(3)(A). CPC submitted internal account notes and a copy of Eaton's credit report showing that Eaton was past due on his account with Nissan and that the account was placed with CPC for collection. Barrett Supp. Aff. Exs. 1, 2. Although Eaton disputes whether he owed any debt at all, such a dispute is immaterial so long as CPC "had reason to believe that [Eaton] defaulted on the... account." Beckstrom v. Direct Merchant's Credit Bank, Civ. No. 04-1351, 2005 WL 1869107, at *3 (D. Minn. Aug. 5, 2005) (dismissing FCRA claim where a credit report was accessed in good faith in order to collect on a debt that plaintiff did not owe).
Eaton also argues that the affidavits submitted by CPC to show it had a permissible purpose are inadmissible under the best evidence rule. The court disagrees. "An original writing, recording, or photograph is required in order to prove its content" unless provided otherwise ...