7th Circuit rejects woman’s suit that credit agency violated FCRA

June 24, 2015

Finding several things “wrong” with a woman’s lawsuit against a credit reporting agency, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of the company on her lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Andrea M. Childress filed for bankruptcy with her now ex-husband under Chapter 13, but later she filed a motion to dismiss the petition. The court granted the petition in 2006. Her credit report with Experian noted that the bankruptcy petition had been “dismissed.”

Childress’ attorney demanded Experian remove all reference to the bankruptcy because it had been dismissed at her behest. Experian receives copies of judgments in bankruptcy cases from Lexis and notes them in credit reports of people who have filed bankruptcy petitions. In 2012, the agency purged the reference from her file because it would have been nearly seven years since it was dismissed. The major credit reporting agencies purge these records after seven years.

Childress’ lawsuit argued that Experian willfully violated provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and sought to make the lawsuit a class action. The District Court ruled in favor of Experian.

Childress argues that the credit reporting agencies should investigate all bankruptcy petitions to determine whether they were dismissed at the request of the petitioner. This would be impossible to do without a person legally trained to do so, as there are 94 bankruptcy courts that docket entries differently. This suggestion is not reasonable and would put an enormous burden on the consumer credit reporting agencies, Judge Richard Posner wrote.

He also noted that every bankruptcy case that is withdrawn at the request of the petitioner is dismissed, as reflected in Childress’ credit report, so there was no inaccuracy in her report.

The case is Andrea M. Childress v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 14-2864.



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