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Fields v. Beverly Health and Rehabilitation Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 1, 2017

Maxine Fields, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
Beverly Health and Rehabilitation Services, Inc.; Beverly Enterprises-Minnesota LLC d/b/a Golden LivingCenter-Hopkins and Hopkins Care Center; Golden Gate National Senior Care LLC d/b/a Golden Living; and GGNSC Administrative Services, LLC, Defendants.

          Cassie C. Navarro, Esq., Joni M. Thome, Esq., and Shawn J. Wanta, Esq., Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP, counsel for Plaintiff.

          Charles M. Roesch, Esq., and Susan H. Jackson, Esq., Dinsmore & Shohl LLP; and Katie M. Connolly, Esq., Nilan Johnson Lewis PA, counsel for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONOVAN W. FRANK United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Maxine Fields (“Fields” or “Plaintiff”) has brought a claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”)[1] against her former employer and its related entities. Fields alleges that Defendants failed to provide her the necessary disclosures in the proper form before procuring her consumer report. Fields does not allege that she suffered any actual damages. Instead she seeks statutory damages for an allegedly willful violation of the FCRA. (Doc. No. 31, Second Am. Compl. (“SAC”) ¶¶ 42-43.) Defendants have moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and therefore does not reach Defendants' other motion.[2]

         BACKGROUND

         Defendants operate a number of nursing/assisted living centers. (Id. at ¶ 8.) In 2014, Fields received a conditional offer to work full time with Defendant Golden LivingCenter-Hopkins in Hopkins, Minnesota. (Id. at ¶ 4.) Fields then met with Defendants' human-resources representative to complete a set of forms, including a Background Check Authorization Form. (Id. at ¶ 18, & Ex. A (“Authorization Form”).)

         The Authorization Form required Fields to provide her name, social security number, date of birth, current address, and any previous addresses for the last five years. (Authorization Form.) Under the date-of-birth field, the Authorization Form provided that the birthdate was to be “[u]sed solely for ensuring completion of a criminal record check” and that employers are prohibited from discriminating based on age for individuals age 40 or older. (Id.) In addition, Fields had to check “yes” or “no” boxes regarding whether: (1) she had ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony; (2) she was awaiting prosecution on a misdemeanor or felony; or (3) she had ever pled no contest to a misdemeanor or felony. (Id.) Fields checked “no” for each box, but if she had checked “yes, ” then she was asked to give additional details. (Id.)

         Finally, the Authorization Form required Fields to affirm to the following:

I understand that as part of your procedure for processing my application, an investigative report about my background may be made which may include information obtained through personal interviews regarding my character, general reputation, personal characteristics or mode of living. I have the right to make a written request, within a reasonable period of time, for complete disclosure of additional information concerning the nature and scope of the investigation. I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this authorization form. ALL representations by me in this data sheet are to the best of my knowledge and belief true and correct, and I have not knowingly omitted any related information of an adverse nature. Inaccurate information may make me ineligible for employment. I also understand that having a criminal conviction is not an automatic bar for employment. In the absence of a written contract, employment with the Company is employment at the will of each party. The employment relationship may be terminated at any time at the discretion of the employee or the Company.

(Id.) Fields signed the Authorization Form. (SAC ¶ 18.) After signing the form, Defendant GGNSC Administrative Services, LLC procured a criminal background check on behalf of Golden LivingCenter-Hopkins. (See Id. at ¶¶ 6, 31.) The background check showed that Fields had no criminal history. (Doc. No. 36 (Fenner Aff.”) ¶ 6.) Fields then worked at Golden LivingCenter-Hopkins for fourteen months, until June 5, 2015. ( Id. at ¶ 7.)

         The FCRA requires that if a person intends to run a consumer report (including a criminal background check) for employment purposes, that person must: (1) provide a clear and conspicuous document containing solely the disclosure that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes; and (2) obtain written authorization for the procurement of the report by that person. 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681a(d)(1) & 1681b(b)(2)(A). Under the FCRA, a plaintiff can recover statutory damages even if she has suffered no actual damages for willful violations of the FCRA. Id. § 1681n.

         On March 1, 2016, Plaintiff filed her first Complaint alleging a violation of the FCRA. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff amended her Complaint twice. (Doc. Nos. 25, 31.) In her Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff seeks to represent a class of plaintiffs for whom Defendants obtained a consumer report in the five years leading up to the filing of the Complaint. (SAC ¶ 34.) At the heart of her complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants willfully violated the FCRA by failing to provide a stand-alone disclosure that clearly and conspicuously stated which type of report was going to be procured and by whom. (Id. at ¶¶ 20, 28.) As a result of this inadequate disclosure, Plaintiff alleges, Defendants failed to obtain the requisite authorization before procuring Plaintiff's criminal background history. (Id. at ¶ 33.) On December 21, 2016, Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction and that Plaintiff had failed to allege a willful violation of the FCRA. (Doc. No. 36.)[3]

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) challenges the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). To survive a motion under Rule 12(b)(1), the party asserting jurisdiction has the burden of proving jurisdiction. V S Ltd. P'ship v. Dep't of Hous. & Urban Dev., 235 F.3d 1109, 1112 (8th Cir. 2000). ‚ÄúSubject-matter jurisdiction is a threshold requirement which must be ...


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