In Sanchez v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, No. 8:18-cv-00500-JLS-KS, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108692 (C.D. Cal. June 27, 2019), Judge Staton denied an FCRA/CCRAA Plaintiff’s MSJ that proceeded on the claim that the Plaintiff’s father allegedly falsely took out credit on Plaintiff’s behalf. The facts were as follows:
On August 22, 2015, an individual whom Plaintiff claims is his father, Victor M. Sanchez II (“Father”), submitted an online application for a line of credit with U.S. Bank under the name “Victor Sanchez.” (U.S. Bank’s Response to Plaintiff’s Undisputed Facts ¶ 1, Doc. 41-1; Application, Ex. 1 to Loker Decl., Doc. 37-4.) The application was submitted with what Plaintiff claims was his Father’s email address; his Father’s phone number; his Father’s Arizona driver’s license; his Father’s 1963 birth date; his Father’s mailing address in La Brea; and his Father’s occupation.3 (U.S. Bank’s Response to Plaintiff’s Undisputed [*2] Facts ¶¶ 2-16.) Indeed, Plaintiff was born in 1983, has never lived at the La Brea address, and has never had an Arizona driver’s license. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 13-14.) However, the Social Security number used to open the account belongs to Plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) U.S. Bank approved the application and opened an account. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21.) Some of the checks cashed on the account reflect Plaintiff’s Father’s mailing address. (Id. ¶ 22.) Checks were cashed on the account under the name “Victor Sanchez,” and some of them included the suffix “Jr.” (Id. ¶ 23.) One of the deposit slips also used the name “Victor Sanchez, Jr.” (Id. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff testified that his Father’s signature was on the checks that were deposited into the account. (Id. ¶ 94.) The checks deposited into the account were from what Plaintiff claims is his Father’s business (id. ¶¶ 26-27); from individuals Plaintiff indisputably does not know (id. ¶¶ 27-29); and from Liberty Mutual, with which Plaintiff indisputably has no relationship (id. ¶¶ 30-32). Plaintiff and his Father both work for Turbine Repair Services, LLC (TRS). (Id. ¶ 33.) Some of the checks deposited into the account from TRS bore Father’s “generation code”-“Jr.” (Id. ¶ 34.) None of the checks bore Plaintiff’s generation code — “III”-and this code was indisputably included on all of Plaintiff’s TRS paychecks. (Id. ¶¶ 37-38.) Further, a check was cashed for a “Ford Raptor.” (Id. ¶ 39.) Plaintiff has never owned or driven a Ford Raptor and claims that this was his Father’s car. (Id. ¶¶ 39-42.) Plaintiff also attests that his Father lives at an address in Huntington Beach to which, along with his Father’s other address in La Brea, all the statements on the account indisputably were mailed. (Id. ¶¶ 43-46.) Father’s mother’s maiden name is the answer to the account security question asking for the account holder’s mother’s maiden name. (Id. ¶¶ 46-48.) On December 17, 2015, the birthdate on the account was changed from 1963 to Plaintiff’s 1983 birthdate. (Id. ¶ 50.) No more payments were made on the account after March 21, 2017, and the account had an outstanding balance of $1,165.95 at that time. (Id. ¶ 52.) Sometime prior to September 2017, Plaintiff received calls from U.S. Bank trying to collect on the account, and he let the calls go to voicemail. (Id. ¶ 53.) Plaintiff attests that he and his Father’s credit information had been mixed up in the [*4] past. (Id. ¶ 54.) On September 7, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a written dispute to TransUnion. (Id. ¶ 61.) Plaintiff’s dispute stated that “[t]his account is not mine. I believe it belongs to my Father Victor M. Sanchez, Jr.” (Id. ¶ 62.) U.S. Bank received, investigated and verified the dispute, which U.S. Bank claims asked it to confirm the identification information on the account; namely, the Social Security number, date of birth, and generation code. (Id. ¶ 63.) U.S. Bank’s dispute analyst, Chris Kundert, verified as accurate U.S. Bank’s report that the account belonged to Plaintiff. (Id.) In the process of verifying that Plaintiff owned the account, the generation code was “dropped,” and Kundert testified that he did not think the generation code was relevant to verification. (Id.; Kundert Depo. 35:13-20, Doc. 37-21.) On September 15, 2017, U.S. Bank received a dispute from Equifax, which stated that the account was “not [Plaintiff’s].” (U.S. Bank’s Response to Plaintiff’s Undisputed Facts ¶ 64.) U.S. Bank’s dispute analyst investigated and verified as accurate U.S. Bank’s report that the account belonged to Plaintiff. (Id.)
Judge Staton held that the Defendant’s re-Investigation under FCRA might have been reasonable, and that a jury should decide it.
The Court does not find that the only conclusion a reasonable jury could reach is that U.S. Bank’s investigation was unreasonable. Here, just as in Soria, U.S. Bank focused on internal records—the name and Social Security number listed on the account—to verify that the account belonged to Plaintiff. See Soria, Case 8:17-cv-00603-CJC-KES, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70068, Doc. 92, at 19. Soria involved a purported fraud committed by U.S. Bank’s own employee, and the court concluded that “arguably . . . a reasonable investigation requires more than a review of internal records.” Id. The court denied U.S. Bank and the plaintiff’s motions for summary judgment because there was “a genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether U.S. Bank conducted a reasonable investigation.” Id. The Court reaches the same conclusion here. Given Plaintiff’s multiple disputes and phone calls about his ownership of the account, Plaintiff has ample grounds upon which to argue to a jury that U.S. Bank’s investigation was insufficient. Plaintiff’s evidence, however, does not show that “only one conclusion about [U.S. Bank’s investigation] is possible.” See Gorman, 584 F.3d at 1157. Instead, a reasonable jury could conclude that, given the scope of the disputes and that the account reflected Plaintiff’s name and Social Security number, U.S. Bank’s investigation was reasonable.
Judge Staton similarly held that Plaintiff’s CCRAA claim must go to the jury.
“To prevail on a [CCCRAA] claim, the plaintiff must prove that (1) Defendant is a ‘person’ under the [CCCRAA], (2) Defendant reported information to a CRA; (3) the information reported was inaccurate; (4) Plaintiff was harmed; and, (5) Defendant knew or should have known that the information was inaccurate.” Robbins, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209367, 2017 WL 6513662, at *14. The parties make no new arguments as to this claim, and whether U.S. Bank “knew or should have known that the information was inaccurate” mirrors the “reasonable investigation” requirement of the FCRA. See Scharer v. OneWest Bank, FSB, No. CV 13-80 DSF (AGRX), 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182244, 2014 WL 12558124, at *7 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 8, 2014) (failure to raise genuine dispute as to reasonable investigation under FCRA sufficient to show no dispute as to CCCRAA’s “knows or should know” requirement). Thus, for the reasons discussed above in relation to the FRCA claim, the court concludes that there is a genuine dispute of fact as to whether U.S. Bank knew or should have known that the information in Plaintiff’s credit reports was inaccurate.