In Zimmerman v. Bank of America, , 2009 WL 418606 (N.D.Miss 2009), Judge Mills ruled on what constitutes a “reasonable investigation” by a furnisher after it receives a consumer dispute verification from a credit reporting agency which gives notification of such dispute by the consumer. Judge Mills found the question of “reasonableness” best left to Mississippi juries.
The Fifth Circuit has yet to decide what constitutes a reasonable investigation. [FN2] Judge Starrett ruled in Robertson v. J.C. Penny Co., Inc. that “[a] reasonable investigation ‘clearly requires some degree of careful inquiry by creditors’ and more than just a ‘superficial’ inquiry.” 2008 WL 623397, at *8 (S.D.Miss. March 4, 2008) (quoting Johnson v. MDNA Am. Bank, N.A., 357 F.3d 426, 431 (4th Cir.2004)).“[W]hether such a ‘reasonable’ investigation has been conducted is generally a question of fact for the jury. Id. (citing Johnson, 357 F.3d at 430-31); see also Westra v. Credit Controls of Pinellas, 409 F.3d 825, 827 (7th Cir.2005). [FN2. Both parties agree a “reasonable” investigation is required by the FCRA. Relying on rulings from sister courts within the Fifth Circuit, this court agrees with that assumption. See e.g., Robertson v. J.C. Penney Co., Inc., 2008 WL 623391, at *8 (S.D.Miss. March 4, 2008) (citing Bruce v. First U.S.A. Bank, National Association, 103 F.Supp.2d 1135, 1143 (E.D.Mo.2000)).] . . . [¶] BOA would have this court adopt the standard laid out in Westra .In Westra the Seventh Circuit held that because no information about possible fraud or identity theft was presented the only thing required of a furnisher of information was to verify the name, address, and date of birth of the party disputing the re-ported credit problem. Westra, 409 F.3d at 827. That standard fits nicely with the facts presented to this court. ¶ Zimmerman on the other hand asks the court to look to the Third and Fourth Circuits as well as a consent decree offered by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) in its crafting a definition of reasonable. ¶ Zimmerman first relies on the Third Circuit’s opinion in Cushman v. Trans Union Corp. 115 F.3d 220 (3rd Cir.1997). However, this opinion deals with a different section of the FCRA than the one raised by the instant dispute. Further Cushman relies heavily on a Fifth Circuit case, Stevenson v. TRW Inc., in coming to its decision. Id. at 224-26 (citing Stevenson v. TRW Inc., 987 F.2d 288, 293-94 (5th Cir.1997)). If this dispute involved that section of the FCRA, the court would be bound by the holding of Stevenson. However, the issues presented in Westra and Stevenson relate to reporting agencies and not furnishers of information. It is clear from the reasoning provided by the Third and Fifth Circuit that the burden on reporting agencies is greater than the burden imposed on furnishers of information. See e.g., Stevenson, 987 F.2d at 293 (finding that a reporting agency can not simply rely on information provided by furnishers of information, but “must bear some responsibility for evaluating the accuracy of information obtained from subscribers”) (citing Swoager v. Credit Bureau of Greater St. Petersburg, Fla., 608 F.Supp. 972, 976 (M.D.Fla.1985)). It would thus be inappropriate to adopt this tougher standard as it relates to a furnisher of information.
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Having looked at these cases, the court finds the analysis in Johnson persuasive. Johnson is the most consistent with the Fifth Circuit’s ruling in Robertson. Johnson also evidences proper respect for reliance on the good sense of juries. Making determinations as a matter of law under these circumstances requires too much intervention from the court. This reasonableness decision is properly within the province of the jury.