It’s in quotations by design. In Shepard v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, No. 2:17-cv-01118-KJM-CKD, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60814 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 9, 2019), Judge Mueller held that a consumer’s declaration that he was told his credit was and/or would be denied was sufficient to survive summary judgment.
The FCRA permits a plaintiff to recover actual damages for a CRA’s negligent noncompliance with FCRA [*18] provisions. 15 U.S.C. § 1681o(a)(1). Denial of credit is not a prerequisite to recovery under this FCRA provision, and a consumer may recover actual damages for emotional distress and humiliation. Guimond, 45 F.3d at 1333. Further, “absent some authority stating that a denial of credit, and not mere credit inaccuracies, are necessary for recovery under FCRA, the issue of causation should  be left for a fact finder to determine.” Id. Nonetheless, some courts have held that “to create an issue of fact as to causation, a plaintiff must produce evidence that the alleged inaccurate entry was a ‘substantial factor’ in the denial of credit, adverse credit, or other harm.” See Bradshaw, 816 F. Supp. 2d at 1075. Shepard states under penalty of perjury that he “applied for and was denied credit with Chase during Equifax’s inaccurate reporting of the [AT&T] Account” and “Chase informed [him] that [he] was denied due to an active derogatory account on [his] credit.” Shepard Decl. ¶ 11. The AT&T account was the only account in collections showing on his credit report. Id. Shepard also states he had been saving to purchase a home and “was ready to apply for a home loan” but was told by “a mortgage broker who explicitly referenced the [AT&T] Account [that] . . . [he] would [*19] not be approved for a home loan until the AT&T account was updated to ‘paid.'” Id. ¶ 12.7 The parties submit dueling expert reports on whether Shepard’s denial of credit can be attributed to the allegedly erroneous balance. Compare Mot. at 14-15 (summarizing Equifax expert’s opinion that Equifax accurately reported the AT&T account was in collections and “[w]hether a collection account shows a balance or not has no effect on a consumer’s ability to obtain credit,” and arguing Shepard was likely denied credit because of other derogatory accounts in his credit history), with Opp’n at 14 (summarizing Shepard expert’s opinion lenders often use automated decision making in credit decisions and will automatically deny credit to applicants with collection accounts and unpaid balances more than 120 days past due). Equifax also contends Shepard has no admissible evidence he was denied credit by Chase and cannot rely on his speculation he would have been denied a mortgage loan to establish damages. Mot. at 16-17. While Shepard’s ability ultimately to establish he was denied credit by Chase and was precluded from obtaining a home loan because of Equifax’s alleged misconduct is far from assured, [*20] these are disputed issues and the court declines to decide them prematurely. The motion is DENIED on this claim as well.