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Bentley v. Ri-State of Branford, LLC

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 6, 2016

ELISE BENTLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
TRI-STATE OF BRANFORD, LLC, BRAD POMPILLI, and DAN ROE, Defendants.

RULING ON PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff, Elise Bentley, filed this lawsuit against a loan servicer, GreenSky Trade Credit, LLC (“GreenSky”), a company that performs home improvements, Tri-State of Branford, LLC (“Tri-State”), and two individuals affiliated with Tri-State, Brad Pompilli, and Dan Roe. Compl., ECF No. 1. She claims that Tri-State applied for a loan in her name from GreenSky without her permission and that this behavior violated a number of laws. See Ruling on Pl.’s Mot. for Joinder and GreenSky’s Mot. for Summ. J. (“Prior Ruling”), ECF No. 100.[1]

In its most recent ruling, the Court denied Ms. Bentley’s request to add another Defendant to the case, Union First Market Bank, because she failed state any viable legal claims against the bank. See Id. It also granted summary judgment in GreenSky’s favor on all claims. Id. Ms. Bentley has filed a motion asking the Court to reconsider aspects of this ruling. Mot. For Reconsideration, ECF No. 101. For the following reasons, her motion is DENIED.

I. Standard

Motions for reconsideration are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), allowing the alteration of a judgment, and this District’s Local Rule 7(c). The standard for granting such a motion is “strict.” Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995) (citations omitted). “The only permissible grounds on which to grant a motion for reconsideration are: (1) an intervening change in the law; (2) the availability of new evidence not previously available; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.” Martin v. Dupont Flooring Sys., Inc., No. Civ.A. 301CV2189(SUR), 2004 WL 1171208, at *1 (D. Conn. May 25, 2004) (citing Doe v. New York City Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 709 F.2d 782, 789 (2d Cir.), cert. denied sub nom., Catholic Home Bureau v. Doe, 464 U.S. 864 (1983)). A motion to reconsider “will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked-matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court.” Shrader, 70 F.3d at 257 (citations omitted).

II. Discussion

Ms. Bentley argues that the Court’s analysis of her claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., and vicarious liability contains legal errors. She contends that she has viable FCRA claims against Union First Market Bank and GreenSky. She also argues that Union First Market Bank and GreenSky may be held vicariously liable for the actions of the other Defendants in this case. The Court will address her arguments regarding each of these claims in turn.

A. FCRA Claims

As the Court explained in its Prior Ruling, the FCRA controls the circumstances under which both credit reporting agencies and other third parties may access a consumer’s credit report. In particular, the Act requires consumer reporting agencies and users to access consumer reports for a permissible purpose, meaning one specifically enumerated in the statute. 15 U.S.C. §1681b(a) (“any consumer report agency may furnish a consumer report under the following circumstances and no other…”); id. §1681b(f) (“A person shall not use or obtain a consumer report for any purpose unless [ ] the consumer report is obtained for a purpose for which the consumer report is authorized to be furnished under this section…”).

The Court dismissed the FRCA claim against GreenSky because Ms. Bentley failed to produce evidence that GreenSky obtained Ms. Bentley’s credit report without a permissible purpose under the Act. Prior Ruling 30, ECF No. 100. It found that Ms. Bentley failed to allege the same with respect to Union First Market Bank. Id. at 9. In reaching this conclusion, the Court reasoned that the evidence and allegations, respectively, indicated that both parties had accessed Ms. Bentley report for an enumerated, permissible purpose under 15 U.S.C. §1681b(a)(3)(A). Id. at 9, 30. Section 1681b(a)(3)(A) provides that “any consumer reporting agency may furnish a consumer report… [t]o a person which it has reason to believe [ ] intends to use the information in connection with a credit transaction involving the consumer on whom the information is to be furnished and involving the extension of credit to, or review or collection of an account of, the consumer….” The Court concluded that because Ms. Bentley both proved and alleged, respectively, that GreenSky and Union First Market Bank believed that they had accessed her credit report in connection with financing on her proposed home improvement project, they complied with the FCRA.

Ms. Bentley argues that the Court erred in interpreting the text of the FRCA and overlooked controlling authorities. Pl.’s Br. 4-7, ECF No. 101-1. Neither of these arguments provide grounds for reconsideration.

1. Interpreting the Text of the FCRA

First, Ms. Bentley argues that the Court erred in analyzing section 1681b(a)(3)(A) of the FCRA, because it applied the “reason to believe” standard, enumerated in subsection (a)(3)(A), to users of credit reports like GreenSky and Union First Market Bank. Pl.’s Br. 5-6, ECF No. 101-1. She contends that the “reason to believe” inquiry only applies to credit reporting agencies and the Court should have determined whether GreenSky and Union First Market Bank “intended” to use Ms. Bentley’s credit report “in connection with a credit transaction.” The Court disagrees with Ms. Bentley’s interpretation of the statute, but also finds that even if her interpretation governed, her claims against GreenSky and Union First Market Bank would have been dismissed.

A consumer reporting agency may furnish a consumer report under any of several different circumstances listed in section 1681b(a) of the FCRA. Section 1681b(f) provides that “[a] person shall not use or obtain a consumer report for any purpose unless [ ] the consumer report is obtained for a purpose for which the consumer report is authorized to be furnished under this section….” Subsection (f), therefore, applies all of the requirements of subsection (a), including (a)(3)(A), to users like GreenSky and Union First Market Bank. See Braun v. United Recovery Sys., LP, 14 F.Supp.3d 159, 165 (S.D.N.Y. 2014) (observing that “because ‘even consumer reporting agencies acting in complete good faith cannot prohibit illicit use of consumer information if users are not bound to obtain consumer reports only for permissible purposes, ’ ‘the FCRA also extends to the conduct of parties who request credit information.’”) (emphasis in original) (quoting Stonehart v. Rosenthal, No. 01-CV-651, 2001 WL 910771, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 13, 2001)); Geiling v. Wirt Fin. Servs., ...


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