United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E. D
September 13, 1974
LINDA WEST CONLEY AND JAMES E. CONLEY III, PLAINTIFFS,
TRW CREDIT DATA, A DIVISION OF TRW INC. AND WASHINGTON SQUARE EAST MANAGEMENT CO., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Will, District Judge.
Plaintiffs, Linda West Conley and James E. Conley III, have
brought suit against defendants, TRW Credit Data and
Washington Square East Management Company (a Philadelphia
Management Company), for alleged violations of tfhe Fair
Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681-1681t. The plaintiffs
allege that they entered into a contract with a Chicago rental
agent to lease an apartment in Newberry Plaza, 1030 North State
Street, Chicago, Illinois, with the understanding that the
lease would not be executed until a consumer credit report was
received. TRW allegedly supplied the agent with a consumer
credit report stating the plaintiffs had left their
Philadelphia apartment owing the owner approximately $1,000.
TRW's source, Washington Square East Apartments, admitted in a
phone conversation with James E. Conley to the falsity of this
information but, nevertheless, defendants refused to completely
correct the alleged misinformation. The plaintiffs claim to
have been injured as a result of defendants' actions.
The defendants move to dismiss the claim as to Linda West
Conley on the ground that the Act only applies to persons on
whom credit reports are made. Therefore, the defendants
continue, because the credit report was made on James Conley
III and only incidentally on Linda Conley as spouse, she
cannot bring suit f alleged violations of the Act.
Mrs. Conley opposes the defendants' motions contending that
the rental agent requested and received information on both
plaintiffs and required the credit and signatures of both in
support of the lease application. Accordingly, she contends
that both plaintiffs have standing to sue for violations of
Section 1681e(b) under which plaintiffs brought this action
Whenever a consumer reporting agency prepares a
consumer report it shall follow reasonable
procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of
the information concerning the individual about
whom the report relates.
Sections 1681n and 1681o provide for civil liability where
credit agencies wilfully or negligently fail to comply with
any requirement of the Act.
The language of § 1681e(b) clearly includes both plaintiffs
in the instant case. The credit of both husband and wife stood
behind the apartment leasing contract; information concerning
both persons was, therefore, significant to the instant
transaction. The report indicated the nature and duration of
the wife's employment as well as her compensation.
The purpose of the Fair Credit Reporting Act is to encourage
the use of fair and impartial procedures by consumer reporting
agencies by enabling individuals to protect themselves against
the dissemination of inaccurate or misleading information
bearing on their credit worthiness. Introduction And
Section-By-Section Analysis of "Good Name" Bill, 116 Cong.Rec.
6200 (1970). This purpose is circumvented by disallowing the
wife, as to whom vital information is furnished in a credit
report, to challenge the impartiality and fairness of
reporting procedures. This view necessarily prevails when the
realities of shared expenses, shared liabilities, and in this
case shared injury are considered.
A fair reading of the language and purpose of the statute
compels the conclusion that both a husband and spouse to whom
a credit report relates have standing to protest under §
1681e(b) the fairness of reporting procedures used by a credit
reporting agency and to sue for damages under the Act when the
report relates and refers to both of them. Accordingly, an
appropriate order will enter denying defendants' motion to
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