In Mader v. Experian Info. Sol.,Inc., Nos. 20-3073, 21-2171, 2023 WL 27654, (2d Cir. January 4, 2023), the plaintiff brought action under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) against a credit-reporting agency for reporting his private educational loan, which he believed was discharged in bankruptcy, as “due and owing.” The bankruptcy court in 2013 stated that “all dischargeable debt” was discharged. Educational loans funded in whole or in part by a governmental unit or nonprofit are typically not dischargeable. Assessing the record, the district court concluded that the consumer’s loan was guaranteed or funded by non-profits or the government. Thus, the court granted summary judgment to Experian based on the belief that the private loan was non-dischargeable making the reported information accurate. Plaintiff appealed.
The Court of Appeals explained that to prevail on a §1681e(b) claim, the plaintiff must establish that the credit report contains an inaccuracy. The court noted that the plaintiff had not filed an adversary proceeding with the bankruptcy court to determine if the loan was dischargeable; thus, there was no way the defendant could “objectively verify” the plaintiff’s contention. Therefore, the Court reasoned that the alleged “inaccuracy” did not meet the required statutory test and Experian was not required to resolve the legal question of whether the private student loan was discharged. The Court of Appeals held that in order to allege an inaccuracy within the meaning of Section 1681e(b), the inaccuracy cannot pertain to an unresolved legal question. Rather, it must be based on a factual inaccuracy or on a legal question that is “sufficiently settled so that the impact on a particular debt is readily and objectively verifiable.” However, the court noted that no clear line has been drawn between these factual and legal inaccuracies. Thus, the Second Circuit affirmed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Experian.
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