In Lowe v. MAC Credit Union, Inc., 2018 WL 2422999 (W.D. Tex. 2018), Judge Rodriquez dismissed an FCRA claim against an Alaska-based credit union whose customer had relocated to Texas due to lack of jurisdiction.
The unilateral activity of a plaintiff who claims some relationship with a nonresident defendant cannot satisfy the requirement of contact with the forum state. The fact that Lowe moved to Texas and maintained her relationship with MAC, even if it was foreseeable to MAC that she might do so, is insufficient. It is well settled that a contractual relationship, standing alone, cannot establish minimum contacts. Burger King v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 478 (1985); Monkton Ins. Servs., Ltd. v. Ritter, 768 F.3d 429, 433 (5th Cir. 2014) (merely contracting with a resident of the forum state does not establish minimum contacts). Nothing about the relationship between Plaintiff and MAC concerns Texas specifically. They did not contract in Texas and did not contemplate that the contract would be performed in Texas. Burger King, 471 U.S. at 478 (contract may be sufficient if defendant envisioned continuing and wide-reaching contacts in the forum state through the contract). Similarly, the fact that other MAC members may have moved to Texas and maintained their relationships with MAC does not demonstrate purposeful availment by MAC. Walden v. Fiore, 134 S. Ct. 1115, 1123 (2014) (“To be sure, a defendant’s contacts with the forum State may be intertwined with his transactions or interactions with the plaintiff or other parties. But a defendant’s relationship with a plaintiff or third party, standing alone, is an insufficient basis for jurisdiction.”). “Due process requires that a defendant be haled into court in a forum State based on his own affiliation with the State, not based on the ‘random, fortuitous, or attenuated’ contacts he makes by interacting with persons affiliated with the State.” Id. Further, the fact that MAC reported a trade line on Lowe’s credit report and verified it in response to her dispute does not establish any purposeful contacts with Texas. Any reporting to the credit bureaus was done by MAC in Alaska to no one in Texas. Haskins’ affidavit states that all conduct of MAC relating to its collection, reporting, and investigating this debt occurred in Alaska, and any acts of MAC relating to Plaintiff’s allegations consisted of communications between MAC and the consumer credit reporting agencies and MAC’s investigations of its own records, which took place in Alaska. MAC asserts that, after engaging R.A. Rogers’ services to collect the debt for MAC, MAC never sent Plaintiff a demand letter, fax, or email in Texas or anywhere else or made a phone call to Texas, and never initiated any communication with Plaintiff while she resided in Texas. Plaintiff’s argument is based on her assertion that MAC intended to injure her when it reported the trade loan, was on notice from the credit bureaus that she was residing in Texas and so must have known it would injure Plaintiff in Texas by doing so, and thus intended to injure her (or coerce her) in Texas. However, MAC did not purposefully reach out to Texas in any way, and did not intend to injure Plaintiff specifically in Texas. Rather, her location in Texas was fortuitous because at some point after acquiring this debt, Lowe moved to Texas. When Lowe noticed what she thought was double reporting of her debt, she contacted the credit bureaus, who then forwarded her dispute to MAC. MAC’s responding to a communication initiated by Lowe’s disputing the record in Texas is insufficient to confer jurisdiction. All actions of MAC in response occurred in Alaska, and any communications complained of were directed to the credit reporting agencies, not Lowe in Texas. To the extent MAC might have been aware that Lowe was residing in Texas at the time it communicated with the credit bureaus, such knowledge is insufficient to establish minimum contacts. See Ray, 2007 WL 4245459, at *3 (“Ray has alleged that BB&T’s electronic communication with Experian’s computer servers in Texas concerning Ray’s credit report subjects BB&T to specific jurisdiction. However, accessing or sending data in North Carolina to or from a database which happens to be headquartered in Texas is not a purposeful availment by BB&T of the benefits and protections of Texas’ laws.”).