A federal judge in the Southern District of Indiana granted plaintiff’s motion to compel Trans Union’s discovery responses.
- Plaintiff alleged Trans Union credit reported false information about him when Trans Union credit reported information that belonged to a different consumer. The plaintiff also alleged that Trans Union failed to correct the credit report errors after Trans Union received notice of the false information.
- In discovery, plaintiff requested Trans Union to identify the documents it reviewed when it determined that plaintiff had a mixed credit file. Plaintiff also asked Trans Union to produce documents, including electronically stored information, reviewed by Trans Union when it determined that plaintiff had a mixed credit file.
- In response to plaintiff’s discovery, Trans Union made “kitchen sink” boiler-plate objections. Trans Union also made no attempt to articulate the basis of its objections. And objected to the term “mixed file” saying it was not defined by plaintiff. Trans Union refused to answer an interrogatory, which asked Trans Union whether plaintiff had a “mixed file” and to identify the information Defendant relied upon in making that determination.
- Plaintiff asked Trans Union to produce Any documents or electronically stored information reviewed, used, examined, viewed, considered, or relied upon by Trans Union’s corporate representative, Lynn Romanowski, when making the determination whether plaintiff had a mixed credit file.
- Trans Union responded after making a reasonable inquiry, Trans Union did not know whether it withheld any responsive documents because Trans Union’s corporate representative, Lynn Prindes (formerly Lynn Romanowski), could not recall the specific documents or electronically stored information she “reviewed, used, examined, viewed, considered or relied upon” when Trans Union determined the plaintiff had a mixed credit file.
- Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 37, plaintiff moved to compel Trans Union’s responses to the discovery requests and to identify and produce the documents that Trans Union relied on when it determined the plaintiff did in fact have a mixed credit file.
- Plaintiff argued Trans Union’s answer to the interrogatory was incomplete because Trans Union failed to identify the information it relied on when it determined that plaintiff had a mixed file. Plaintiff also argued Trans Union’s response to the document request was incomplete because Trans Union failed to produce the documents it reviewed when it determined that the plaintiff had a mixed credit file.
- Trans Union argued its response was complete because Lynn Romanowski could not recall the specific documents or electronically stored information she “reviewed, used, examined, viewed, considered or relied upon” when she determined that the plaintiff did in fact have a mixed file. Further, Trans Union did not believe that it had to produce the documents because when one of its employees reviewed computer screen shots and made the determination, she did not print documents.
- However, based on the deposition testimony of Ms. Prindes, Trans Union was able to determine that the plaintiff’s credit file was mixed with another consumer’s credit file from documents in its computer system. Further, Ms. Prindes testified that if she could log into Trans Union’s computer system, she could identify the information she relied upon when she determined that Trans Union mixed plaintiff’s credit report with another consumer’s credit file and print the screens for each of the electronically stored documents.
- The plaintiff asked for any documents even if they are electronically stored. Trans Union’s objections were overruled. Accordingly, the court granted plaintiff’s motion to compel and ordered Trans Union to produce print outs for each of the screen shots reviewed by Trans Union when it determined that plaintiff had a mixed credit file because whether the documents were printed out when the determination or not does not matter. The information was readily available to Trans Union and plaintiff requested electronically stored documents. The court ordered Trans Union to produce the documents which it reviewed when it determined that the plaintiff had a mixed credit file.
Watkins v. Trans Union; Case No. 2:14-cv-00135-WTL-MJD (S.D. Ind. June 15, 2018).
Mixed credit reports are not a new phenomenon. See Thompson v. San Antonio Merchants Assn 682 F.2d 509 (5th Cir. 1982). In the early 1990s, the Federal Trade Commission and various state attorney generals also initiated actions against the nationwide consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) related to mixed credit files. 1992 Attorney General Agreement & Assurances with Equifax, 1995 FTC Consent Order & Assurances with Equifax. More recently, the New York Attorney General settled a government enforcement action with Equifax, Experian and Trans Union related to mixed files. 2015 New York AG Settlement Agreement with Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. These are just a few of the enforcement actions against the consumer reporting agencies related to compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Despite government actions, the credit reporting agencies continue to mix consumers credit files. The Adkins Firm represents consumers with mixed credit files. We also represent consumers with credit report errors or background report errors in federal court against consumer reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Do you have errors on your credit report? Has one of the credit bureaus mixed your credit report with information that belongs to another person? Have you disputed the credit report errors and the credit reporting agencies verified the false information belongs to you?