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Dreher v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

June 19, 2014

MICHAEL T. DREHER, Plaintiff,
v.
EXPERIAN INFORMATION SOLUTIONS, INC., et al, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN A. GIBNEY, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the plaintiff's Motion to Certify Class. (Dk. No. 140.) The Court GRANTS the motion.

This case arises from a credit report provided to the plaintiff, Michael T. Dreher, by the defendant, Experian Information Solutions, Inc. Without Dreher's permission, a scoundrel had opened a charge account in Dreher's name at Advanta Bank. The account went into default, and the default showed up on Dreher's credit report. Dreher asked for, and received, a credit report from Experian. The report showed that Experian had received notice of the delinquency from Advanta Bank. Advanta, however, had gone out of business, and a company named Cardworks managed the old Advanta accounts. Cardworks, not Advanta, provided Experian with the information about Dreher's supposed delinquency.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Dreher has sued Experian for not telling him that Cardworks was the actual source of the information about the delinquent account. Apparently, many consumers with old Advanta accounts requested credit reports from Experian, and all of the reports listed Advanta, not Cardworks, as the source of information about the old Advanta accounts. Dreher has brought a class action on behalf of consumers who received inaccurate information from Experian about the Advanta/Cardworks accounts.

The issue before the Court is whether the Court should certify the following class:

All natural persons who: (1) requested a copy of their consumer disclosure from Experian on or after August 1, 2010; (2) received a document in response that identified "Advanta Bank" or "Advanta Credit Cards" as the only source of the information for the tradeline; (3) and whose "date of status" or "last reported" field reflected a date of August 2010 or later.

Before the Court can certify the case as a class action, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the case satisfies the requirements of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court finds that Dreher has met those requirements.

I. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) Requirements

The Court finds, first, that Dreher's proposed class meets each of the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a).

First, the class satisfies the numerosity requirement; Dreher says the class consists of more than 88, 000 class members, a figure drawn from Experian's own records to which Experian has not objected.

Second, the class meets the commonality requirement. The common factual and legal issues include: (1) whether, as of August 1, 2010, Experian knew that Cardworks had been appointed, by the FDIC, as the new servicer on the (now-defunct) Advanta accounts; (2) whether Experian's failure to list "Cardworks" as a source of information violated § 1681(g)(a)(2); and finally, (3) whether Experian's violation of that statutory section was willful.

Third, Dreher's proposed class meets the typicality requirement.

[T]he appropriate analysis of typicality must involve a comparison of the plaintiffs' claims or defenses with those of the absent class members. To conduct that analysis, we begin with a review of the elements of plaintiffs' prima facie case and the facts on which the plaintiff would necessarily rely to prove it. We then determine the extent to which those facts would also prove the claims of the absent class members.

Deiter v. Microsoft Corp., 436 F.3d 461, 467 (4th Cir. 2006). To succeed on his § 1681(g)(a)(2) claim, Dreher must show that (1) the information Experian provided was inaccurate, (2) in violation of § 1681(g)(a)(2) of the FCRA, and (3) Experian's violation was willful. Experian identically handled all requests for credit reports dealing with old Advanta accounts. The evidence Dreher will rely on to establish each element of the case will similarly establish the claims of each absent class member. Whether Dreher suffered any actual injury-in distinction to absent class members-does not detract from the typicality of his prima facie case that Experian willfully violated § 1681(g)(a)(2) of the FCRA.

Fourth, the class meets Rule 23(a)'s adequacy requirement. Dreher's counsel reports him to be a motivated, diligent class representative, and Dreher's counsel is well-experienced ...


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