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King v. Corelogic Credco, LLC

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

June 12, 2018

SHAKEENA KING, on behalf of herself and a class of similarly situated individuals, Plaintiff,


          M. Hannah Lauck, United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Corelogic Credco, LLC's ("Corelogic") Motion to Transfer Venue to the Southern District of California (the "Motion to Transfer"). (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiff Shakeena King responded, and Corelogic replied. (ECF Nos. 11, 12.) Accordingly, the matter is ripe for disposition. The Court dispenses with oral argument because the materials before it adequately present the facts and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the decisional process. The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.[1]For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion to Transfer.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         A. Factual Background

         Corelogic is a California limited liability company that conducts business as a consumer reporting agency and "reseller" of consumer reports. (Compl. ¶ 9, ECF No. 1.) As a reseller of consumer reports, Corelogic assembles and merges information contained in the databases of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion (the "CRAs"). Corelogic then resells this information to third parties in a so-called "tri-merged credit report." (Id. ¶ 3.)

         King is a Virginia resident. On January 31, 2016, King applied for a mortgage loan with NVR Mortgage. NVR Mortgage requested a copy of her credit report from Corelogic. The same day, Corelogic furnished to NVR Mortgage a tri-merge credit report containing information Corelogic obtained from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The tri-merge credit report that Corelogic furnished "attributed many derogatory accounts to [King], including a judgment, a medical collection account, a car repossession, a mortgage account, " and several charged-off credit card accounts. (Id. ¶ 24.) King contends that the information Corelogic furnished was inaccurate because the derogatory accounts belonged to her sister.

         King asserts that Corelogic furnished the inaccurate information because of its "failure to implement and follow reasonable procedures to assure that the information it was publishing regarding consumers, like [King] was as accurate as possible." (Id. ¶ 26.) According to King, "[i]f Corelogic had reasonable procedures (or any procedures whatsoever) it could have easily determined that the information it published regarding Plaintiff was incorrect and belonged to her sister." (Id. ¶ 27.) King further alleges that information Equifax reported to Corelogic did not match King's personal identifiers in important and obvious ways, such as name, social security number, and birthdate, which "should have alerted Corelogic to the fact that the information" did not relate to King. (Id. ¶ 28; see also Id. ¶¶ 29-30.) King states she was "denied a mortgage loan because [Corelogic] simply regurgitated the inaccurate information to [NVR Mortgage], without reviewing the information to make sure that it belonged to [King]." (Id. ¶ 5.)

         King's Complaint alleges one count styled as a class action: a violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b).[2] King contends that Corelogic failed to adopt reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy in the preparation of consumer reports. Specifically, King asserts that Corelogic "blindly published] the information it received from the CRAs even when [the information] did not match the name, date of birth, or social security number that [Corelogic's] customer submitted when requesting the report." (Id. ¶ 49.) King asserts that Corelogic's conduct was "willful and carried out in reckless disregard for a consumer's rights under the FCRA" because "Corelogic has actual knowledge of [the credit reporting problems], but deliberately ignores the problems because reviewing and/or cross-checking the data would reduce its 'bottom line.'" (Id. ¶¶ 41, 38.)

         As it relates to Corelogic's procedures, King contends that Corelogic "obtain[s] consumer reports from the CRAs to resell them without any policies or procedures in place to assure that information it receives is accurate and actually belong[s] to the consumer of interest of its customer." (Id. ¶ 31.) King alleges that Corelogic "blindly accepts" the information it obtains, and "regurgitates" that information into its tri-merge reports "without any procedure to verify that the information is accurate." (Id. ¶ 32.) King asserts that Corelogic uses an "automated process" to flag personal identifier variations, but still "resells any information that it obtains from the CRAs, even when these flags are present." (Id. ¶¶ 34-35.) King claims that Corelogic used this "automated process" and faulty procedures in her case and, "[c]onsistent with its standard policies, " furnished her inaccurate credit report to NVR Mortgage "without any additional review of the flagged information." (Id. ¶¶ 36-37.)

         King seeks to certify a nationwide class consisting of:

[a] 11 natural persons who were the subject: (1) of a consumer report furnished by [Corelogic] to a third party within the five years preceding the filing date of this Complaint; (2) where the personal identifying information section of its consumer report contained a name, date of birth, or social security number that: (i) did not match the information provided by the person requesting the report or[, ] (ii) varied from the information provided by the other consumer reporting agencies.

(Id. ¶ 43.)

         B. Procedural History

         On November 14, 2017, King filed her class action complaint. (ECF No. 1.) Corelogic answered on January 25, 2018, denying any wrongdoing. (ECF No. 7.) The same day, Corelogic filed the Motion to Transfer. (ECF No. 8.) The matter was fully briefed, (ECF Nos. 11, 12), and on April 11, 2018, the judge previously presiding over the case recused himself. The case was randomly reassigned. (ECF No. 13.)

         II. Analysis

         Corelogic moves to transfer venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)[3] to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.[4] Corelogic argues that the Southern District of California constitutes the "clear center of gravity" for this putative class action claim challenging the procedures Corelogic utilizes in compiling tri-merge credit reports. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Transfer 1, ECF No. 9.) King opposes transfer, asserting that her choice of forum is entitled to substantial weight, and that Corelogic fails to "demonstrate any evidence of burden [from litigating in the current forum] that would justify a transfer of this case." (Resp. Mot. Transfer 2, ECF No. 11.) King further contends that Corelogic's transfer request amounts to cost shifting, and that Corelogic would be "in a much better position [than King] to absorb th[e] costs" of litigating in a non-home jurisdiction. (Id. at 10-11.)

         A. Legal Standard

         Section 1404(a) provides: "For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The decision to transfer a case rests in the district court's sound discretion. Koh v. Microtek Intern., Inc., 250 F.Supp.2d 627, 630 (E.D. Va. 2003). A court determining the propriety of a motion to transfer under § 1404(a) follows a two-step inquiry. Bascom Research, LLC v. Facebook, Inc., 2012 WL 12918407, at *1 (E.D. Va. Dec. 11, 2012). First, the court determines whether the claims could have been brought in the transferee forum. Id. Second, the court considers the following four factors: "(1)the plaintiffs choice of forum, (2) the convenience of the parties, (3) witness convenience and access, and (4) the interest of justice." Id. A court's decision to transfer depends on the particular facts of the case, because § 1404(a) "provides no guidance as to the weight" that courts should afford each factor. SamsungElecs. Co., LTD. v. Rambus, Inc., 386 F.Supp.2d 708, 716 (E.D. Va. 2005).

         B. The Court Will Transfer This Case to the Southern District of California

         Under the facts of this case, transfer to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California should commence. Although the Eastern District of Virginia is King's home forum, her choice of forum receives less weight in this putative class case. Byerson, 467 F.Supp.2d at 633. Furthermore, the Eastern District of Virginia is not home to the nucleus of operative facts, decreasing the weight the Court gives to King's choice of forum. Samsung, 386 F.Supp.2d at 716. The convenience to the parties and witnesses strongly favors transfer, as does the interest of justice. Because the balance of the factors weighs in favor of transfer, the Court will grant the Motion to Transfer.

         1. King Could Have Brought Her Claim against Corelogic in the Southern District of California

         King correctly concedes that "this case could have been brought in the Southern District of California." (Resp. Mot. Transfer 4.) Corelogic nevertheless carries the burden of establishing the propriety of the transfer request. Bascom, 2012 WL 12918407, at *1. Even absent King's concession, Corelogic establishes ...

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