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GARRETT v. RENTGROW

July 1, 2005.

MELISSA GARRETT, Plaintiff,
v.
RENTGROW, INC. and APARTMENT INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT COMPANY, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GEORGE MAROVICH, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Melissa Garrett ("Garrett") filed a three-count complaint against defendants RentGrow, Inc. ("RentGrow") and Apartment Investment and Management Company ("AIMCO"). In Counts I and II of her complaint, Garrett asserts that RentGrow violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act ("Illinois Consumer Fraud Act" or "ICFA"), 815 ILCS § 505/2. In Count III, Garrett asserts that AIMCO violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. Defendant AIMCO moves pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for an order dismissing plaintiff's claim against it. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants AIMCO's motion to dismiss.

I. Background

  For purposes of this motion to dismiss, the Court takes as true the allegations in the complaint. As alleged in the complaint, the relevant facts are as follows. AIMCO, a corporation organized as a real estate investment trust, is a substantial owner/operator of apartment properties throughout the United States. AIMCO managed, and may also have owned, a federally-subsidized subsidized apartment complex commonly known as Continental Plaza Apartments ("Continental"). Continental's management subscribed to and utilized an information service provided by RentGrow, a corporation engaged in tenant screening for owners and/or managers of multifamily apartment buildings. RentGrow compiles tenancy history data, including incidents, evictions, etc., on individuals seeking apartments, at the request of owners and/or managers of such apartments.

  Garrett was interested in living in an apartment at the Continental. It offered better living conditions, security and maintenance than the apartment in which she was then living. Also, because units at the Continental were federally subsidized, living there would have reduced her rent and utility expenses. Thus, in 2003, Garrett applied and was wait-listed for an apartment at Continental.

  In early August 2003, Continental's management pulled Garrett's application from the waiting list and sent her a letter indicating that she need only complete the application process at Continental to secure an apartment. After Garrett completed her application, Continental's management obtained a report from RentGrow. The RentGrow report stated that an eviction judgment had been entered against Garrett in Kankakee, Illinois in December 2002. Continental's management then sent Garrett a letter, dated August 20, 2003, rejecting her application for an apartment in the building.

  Garrett maintains that Continental's rejection of her application was based solely on this RentGrow report. Garrett alleges that Continental stated "previous landlord history" as the cause for her denial in the August 20th letter, as well as in a subsequent conversation she initiated with Continental's management. According to Garrett, during this conversation, a representative of Continental's management told her that the "previous landlord history" consisted solely of the Kankakee eviction detailed in the RentGrow report.

  After receiving the August 20th rejection letter, Garrett informed RentGrow that she never resided at the property listed in the Kankakee case and was never sued for eviction from that property. Garrett claims that she then provided RentGrow with evidence supporting her position and contradicting the information detailed in its report. This evidence indicated that she resided in Chicago at the time in which she is claimed to have been evicted from the Kankakee property. Garrett maintains that RentGrow did not change its report on her and that Continental's management continued to rely on the tenancy history provided by RentGrow despite her objections to its accuracy.

  Ultimately, Garrett was unable to obtain an apartment at the Continental complex. Garrett asserts that AIMCO committed an unfair practice, in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, by refusing to re-examine or reverse its denial of her application after she had demonstrated that the basis for denial was inaccurate.

  II. Standard on a motion to dismiss

  The Court may dismiss claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure where the plaintiff fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The purpose of a motion to dismiss under this Rule is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to rule on its merits. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In considering a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. McCullah v. Gadert, 344 F.3d 655, 657 (7th Cir. 2003). On a motion to dismiss, the "issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Cole v. U.S. Capital, Inc., 389 F.3d 719, 724 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).

  III. Discussion

  In support of its motion to dismiss, AIMCO first argues that the plaintiff does not adequately plead an Illinois Consumer Fraud Act claim in that she fails to allege an unfair practice. Next, AIMCO argues that the plaintiff fails to allege intent.

  The Illinois Consumer Fraud Act is a "regulatory and remedial statute intended to protect consumers, borrowers, and business persons against fraud, unfair methods of competition, and other unfair and deceptive business practices." Robinson v. Toyota Motor Credit Corp., 201 Ill. 2d 403, 416-417 (Ill. 2002). Specifically, chapter two of the Act prohibits unfair methods of competition and unfair or ...


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