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Henderson v. Trans Union, LLC

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

May 3, 2016

TYRONE HENDERSON, JOSEPH L. BUCKLEY, and JONATHAN HARRIS, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
TRANS UNION LLC, and TRANS UNION RENTAL SCREENING SOLUTIONS, INC., Defendants.

OPINION

John A. Gibney, Jr. United States District Judges.

Two separate employers did not hire two of the plaintiffs[1] based, in part, on information contained in consumer reports furnished by Trans Union LLC ("Trans Union").[2] Section 1681k of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") requires Trans Union to notify the consumer "at the time" it furnishes a consumer report containing certain information "to the user of such consumer report." 15 U.S.C. § 1681k(a). The plaintiffs allege that the process used by Trans Union for mailing these required notices violates § 1681k. The plaintiffs sued Trans Union, and now move to certify a class. Upon due consideration, the Court grants the plaintiffs' motion for class certification, certifying one class that loosely tracks the plaintiffs' proposed class-the Court having made a few edits to ensure that the class satisfies the requirements of Rule 23.

I. BACKGROUND

Trans Union generates a notice to consumers-dubbed a "PEER Letter"-when it furnishes a consumer report for employment purposes that contains potentially adverse public record information. "Trans Union automatically triggers the PEER Letter process by gathering the necessary information for the letters at the time the report is furnished. The next day, Trans Union sends that information to its vendor, who-on that same day (except for Sundays)-prints and mails the PEER Letters." (Def.'s Resp. 7.) The FCRA requires these notices. Specifically, § 1681k mandates that:

A consumer reporting agency which furnishes a consumer report for employment purposes and which for that purpose compiles and reports items of information on consumers which are matters of public record and are likely to have an adverse effect upon a consumer's ability to obtain employment shall. . .at the time such public record information is reported to the user of such consumer report, notify the consumer of the fact that public record information is being reported by the consumer reporting agency, together with the name and address of the person to whom such information is being reported ....

15 U.S.C. § 1681k(a)(l) (emphasis added).[3]

Trans Union provided employment consumer reports about Buckley and Harris. On December 14, 2012, HireRight, Inc. ("HireRight"), on behalf of Personnel Decisions Research Institutes, Inc. ("PDRI"), requested Buckley's consumer report from Trans Union. Trans Union sent the report, which contained information about Buckley's Chapter 7 bankruptcy. On December 15, 2012, Trans Union mailed a PEER Letter to Buckley. On December 19, 2012, after combining other information it collected with the Trans Union consumer report, HireRight provided PDRI with its report about Buckley. PDRI did not hire Buckley.

On July 10, 2013, Business Information Group ("BIG"), on behalf of the Independent Order of Foresters ("Foresters"), requested Harris's consumer report from Trans Union. Trans Union sent the report, which contained four public record civil judgments against Harris. On July 11, 2013, Trans Union mailed a PEER Letter to Harris. On July 13, 2013, after combining other information it collected with the Trans Union consumer report, BIG generated a report in which it assigned ratings for different categories of information about Harris. BIG then provided Foresters with its report. Foresters did not hire Harris.

The plaintiffs sued Trans Union for violation of § 1681k based on the timing of Trans Union's Peer Letter process. On November 10, 2015, the Court held a hearing on the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. At the hearing, the Court indicated its intent to certify a class with three subclasses, and granted the plaintiffs leave to add a plaintiff that fell within the third intended subclass. (See Order, Nov. 12, 2015.) The plaintiffs did not add an additional plaintiff, instead amending its complaint to narrow their proposed class definition. The plaintiffs proposed the following class:

All natural persons residing in the United States (including all territories and other political subdivisions of the United States) (a) who were the subject of a consumer report furnished to a third-party Reseller by Trans Union LLC, (b) that was furnished for an employment purpose, (c) that contained at least one record of a civil lien, bankruptcy or civil judgment, (d) on or after March 30, 2011, and (e) to whom Trans Union LLC did not place in the United States mail postage pre-paid, on the day it furnished any part of the report containing the public record, a written notice that it was furnishing the subject report and containing the name of the person that was to receive the report. Excluded from the class definition are any employees, officers, directors of Defendants, any attorney appearing in this case, and any judge assigned to hear this action.

(Pls.' Proposed Description 2.) The plaintiffs also proposed the following subclass:

All natural persons residing in the United States (including all territories and other political subdivisions of the United States) (a) who were the subject of a consumer report furnished to Business Information Group, Inc. ("B.I.G.") by Trans Union LLC, (b) that was furnished for an employment purpose, (c) that contained at least one record of a civil lien, bankruptcy or civil judgment, (d) on or after March 30, 2011, and (e) to whom Trans Union LLC did not place in the United States mail postage pre-paid, on the day it furnished any part of the report containing the public record, a written notice that it was furnishing the subject report and containing the name of the person that was to receive the report. Excluded from the class definition are any employees, officers, directors of Defendants, any attorney appearing in this case, and any judge assigned to hear this action.

(Id. at 3.) Trans Union objected to the plaintiffs' proposals for the reasons it stated in its brief and at ...


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