In Hillis v. Trans Union, LLC, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2013 WL 5272922 (E.D.Pa. 2013), Judge Davis allowed a FCRA claim to get past the pleading stage. The dispute arose out of an automobile loan that Plaintiff and his ex-wife entered into during their marriage.In 2007, Plaintiff’s marriage ended in divorce, and the Texas court’s divorce decree awarded the underlying vehicle to Plaintiff’s ex-wife. The decree also required Plaintiff’s ex-wife to make all remaining payments on the car loan and, in the event she failed to do so, indemnify Plaintiff for any resulting liability. Defendant owned the car loan account. The Court found that the failure to mark the account as ‘disputed’ could render the report inaccurate so as to state a claim under FCRA, as pleaded.
Santander principally argues that Plaintiff re-mains contractually liable for the car loan because the Texas divorce decree had no effect on third-party creditors’ rights against Plaintiff or his ex-wife. Although Santander is correct about Plaintiff’s continuing liability and the divorce decree’s limitations, this alone does not mean Santander’s reporting was sufficiently accurate to satisfy the FCRA. “[A] credit entry can be ‘incomplete or inaccurate’ within the meaning of the FCRA ‘because it is patently incorrect, or be-cause it is misleading in such a way and to such an extent that it can be expected to adversely affect credit decisions.’ “ Gorman v.. Wolpoff & Abramson, LLP, 584 F.3d 1147, 1163 (9th Cir.2009) (quoting Sepulvado v. CSC Credit Servs., 158 F.3d 890, 895 (5th Cir.1998)). “Thus … a consumer report that contains technically accurate information may be deemed ‘inaccurate’ if the statement is presented in such a way that it creates a misleading impression.” Saunders v. Branch Banking & Trust Co. of Va., 526 F.3d 142, 148 (4th Cir.2008). A Third Circuit panel, in an unpublished opinion, recently embraced this definition of “inaccuracy,” see Schweitzer v. Equifax Info. Solutions, 441 F. App’x 896, 902 (3d Cir.2011), and courts in this district have followed suit. See Seamans v. Temple Univ., 901 F.Supp.2d 584, 598 (E.D.Pa.2012); Van Veen v. Equifax Info., 844 F.Supp.2d 599, 606 (E.D.Pa.2012). ¶ This Court agrees that “inaccurate” information, in the FCRA context, refers to information that either is factually incorrect or creates a misleading impression. Applying this standard to the present case, Santander’s reported information was not factually incorrect, for Plaintiff did remain ultimately liable for the car loan. But this information, as presented, might still have created a misleading impression. Once Santander learned of the divorce decree, it could have reported Plaintiff’s account as “disputed,” or marked it in some other way that would cause a future creditor to inquire further and more completely understand Plaintiff’s situation. For example, a creditor aware of Plaintiff’s indemnity right against his ex-wife might view him as a slightly more favorable credit risk. If Plaintiff can prove that Santander’s reporting was misleading enough to cause him harm, he may have an actionable claim under the FCRA. At this early stage in the litigation, this Court is not prepared to rule, as a matter of law, that he does not.FN3 [FN3. Santander cites several cases in which District Courts have declined to recognize FCRA claims brought by ex-spouses on facts similar, or at least analogous, to the present case. See Def.’s Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss 5–9 (discussing Dunkinson v. Citigroup Inc ., No. 10–6489, 2012 WL 32573 (D.N.J. Jan. 5, 2012); Moline v. Experian Info. Solutions, 289 F.Supp.2d 956 (N.D.Ill.2003); and Morse v. USAA Fed. Sav. Bank, No. 2:12–CV–00381–KJD–RJJ, 2012 WL 6020090 (D.Nev. Dec. 3, 2012)). All these decisions dispose of the FCRA claims on the ground that the plaintiff ex-spouses remained liable for the underlying debts, and the defendants’ reports were thus factually correct. See Dunkinson, 2012 WL 32573 at *3; Moline, 289 F.Supp.2d at 958–59; Morse, 2012 WL 6020090 at *3. Because none of these cases deals with whether the reports may have been materially misleading to potential creditors, they are of minimal persuasive value in deciding the present matter.]