2nd Circuit Says Credit Report Showing A “Satisfied” Judgment Is Not Misleading Under The FCRA

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On April 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a credit reporting agency’s (CRA) report that a judgment was “satisfied” was accurate and not misleading under the FCRA. According to the opinion, a debt collection action was brought and default judgment entered against the plaintiff. The parties ultimately filed a joint stipulation to resolve the action and discontinue all claims with prejudice. Afterwards, the CRA’s report showed the default judgment, but was later amended to read “judgment satisfied”—a statement that the plaintiff allegedly repeatedly disputed. The plaintiff ultimately filed a lawsuit against the CRA, alleging the agency “willfully and/or negligently violated various FCRA provisions by persisting in publishing [the] report and failing to follow certain of the FCRA’s procedural notice requirements.” Among other things, the plaintiff claimed that the CRA also violated the FCRA’s source-disclosure and reinvestigation provisions and should have disclosed that the information about the judgment came from a contractor-intermediary working for the CRA. The district court dismissed one of the FCRA claims and granted summary judgment to the CRA on the remaining FCRA claims.

On appeal, the 2nd Circuit agreed with the district court, concluding first that there was no FCRA reporting violation because the description of the judgment as “satisfied” was accurate. Moreover, the appellate court wrote, even if the CRA should have disclosed that the contractor was the source, the plaintiff “failed to present any evidentiary basis for concluding that he suffered actual damages” resulting from the CRA’s failure to not disclose or treat the contractor as a source or furnisher of the information about the judgment. The 2nd Circuit further rejected the plaintiff’s claims against the CRA for willful violations of sections 1681g and 1681i, concluding that the sections “can be reasonably interpreted not to require such a disclosure and no more need be shown.”