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September 19, 2005.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: AMY ST. EVE, District Judge


Plaintiff Frederick King originally filed the present Complaint alleging state law claims of defamation and violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, 815 ILCS 505/2 et seq., in the Municipal Department — First District of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. On July 21, 2005, Defendant Retailers National Bank, n/k/a Target National Bank ("TNB"), removed this action to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). King now seeks to have his case remanded to state court under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). In opposition to King's motion, TNB contends that the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq., completely preempts King's state law claims, and thus removal is proper. In the alternative, TNB contends that the Court has diversity jurisdiction over this matter. For the following reasons, the Court grants King's motion to remand.


  Removal of actions from state to federal court is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1441, which provides that "any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending." In other words, "[a] defendant may remove a case to federal court if the federal district court would have original subject matter jurisdiction over the action." Disher v. Citigroup Global Mkt., Inc., 419 F.3d 649, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). The defendant has the burden of establishing that an action is removable and doubts concerning removal must be resolved in favor of remand to the state court. See Boyd v. Phoenix Funding Corp., 366 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2004) ; McCoy v. General Motors Corp., 226 F.Supp.2d 939, 943 (N.D. Ill. 2002).


  I. Federal Question Jurisdiction

  TNB argues that King's claims are artfully pleaded state law claims that are completely preempted by the FCRA, and thus removal to federal court is proper. The question before the Court is not whether the FCRA preempts King's defamation claim or claim based on the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, but whether the FCRA's preemptive reach is "complete" for removal purposes.

  When determining whether federal question jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 in removal actions, courts follow the well-pleaded complaint rule, that is, federal question jurisdiction exists only when a plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint raises an issue of federal law. Hart v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Assoc's. Health & Welfare Plan, 360 F.3d 674, 678-79 (7th Cir. 2004); see also Beneficial Nat'l Bank v. Anderson, 539 U.S. 1, 6, 123 S.Ct. 2058, 156 L.Ed.2d 1 (2003) (courts examine well-pleaded allegations of complaint, not potential defenses). In general, the plaintiff is the master of his own complaint and may avoid federal question jurisdiction by exclusively pleading state law claims. Nelson v. Steward, ___ F.3d ___, 2005 WL 2063978, *3 (7th Cir. Aug. 29, 2005). Also, a case may not be removed based on a federal defense, even if both parties recognize that the federal defense is the only issue at hand. Id.

  There is a narrow exception to the well-pleaded complaint rule, namely, the "complete preemption doctrine." See Hart, 360 F.3d at 678; see also Beneficial Nat'l Bank, 539 U.S. at 67. Under the complete preemption doctrine, "[o]nce an area of state law has been completely pre-empted, any claim purportedly based on that pre-empted state law is considered, from its inception, a federal claim, and therefore arises under federal law." Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 393, 107 S.Ct. 2425, 2429, 96 L.Ed.2d 318 (1987). The touchstone of complete preemption is Congress' clear intent to make causes of action within the scope of an Act removable to federal court. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 66-67, 107 S.Ct. 1542, 95 L.Ed.2d 55 (1987); Adkins v. Illinois Central R.R. Co., 326 F.3d 828, 835 (7th Cir. 2003). Complete preemption, which provides a basis for federal question jurisdiction, should not be confused with conflict preemption, which is a defense to the merits of a claim and not a basis for federal jurisdiction. Vorhees v. Naper Aero Club, Inc., 272 F.3d 398, 403 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Metropolitan Life Ins., 481 U.S. at 63 ("Federal pre-emption is ordinarily a federal defense to the plaintiff's suit.").

  "There are only two areas in which the Supreme Court has found that Congress intended completely to replace state law with federal law for purposes of federal jurisdiction: the first is in the field of federal labor law and the second is in the area of federal pension law." Vorhees, 272 F.3d at 403. In concluding that complete preemption applied to particular provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") and the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), the Supreme Court looked to the jurisdictional grants under each Act — both of which granted exclusive federal court jurisdiction. See Metropolitan Life Ins., 481 U.S. at 66-67; Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 394.

  The Court thus turns to the jurisdictional grant under the FCRA, which allows for concurrent jurisdiction: "An action to enforce any liability created under this subchapter may be brought in any appropriate United States district court, without regard to the amount in controversy, or in any other court of competent jurisdiction. . . ." 15 U.S.C. § 1681p (emphasis added); see also Harper v. TRW, Inc., 881 F.Supp. 294, 299 (E.D. Mich. 1995) (FCRA's grant of concurrent jurisdiction "weighs heavily against preemption"). Because the FCRA grants concurrent jurisdiction, the Court would be hard-pressed to conclude that Congress intended for the FCRA to replace all state claims or that Congress intended the FCRA to provide for exclusive jurisdiction to the federal courts, and thus allow for removal based on complete preemption. See Vorhees, 272 F.3d at 403 ("The question is whether . . . Congress clearly intended completely to replace state law with federal law and create a federal forum, or, more likely, if it only intended to provide a federal defense to the application of state law.").

  The plain language of the two FCRA preemption sections also demonstrates that the FCRA does not completely preempt all state law claims. See id. at 404. Prior to the 1996 amendments to the FCRA, Section 1681h(e) governed state law actions against furnishers of credit information. See Jordan v. Trans Union, LLC, 377 F.Supp.2d 1307, 1308 (N.D. Ga. 2005). Section 1681h(e) provides, in relevant part:
Except as provided in section 1681n and 1681o of this title, no consumer may bring any action or proceeding in the nature of defamation, invasion of privacy, or negligence with respect to the reporting of information against . . . any person who furnishes information to a consumer reporting agency, based on information disclosed pursuant to section 1681g, 1681h, or 1681m of this title, or based on information disclosed by a user of a consumer report to or for a consumer against whom the user has taken adverse action, based in whole or in part on the report except as to false information furnished with malice or willful intent to injure such consumer.
15 U.S.C. § 1681h(e) (emphasis added). Section 1681h(e) allows for state law claims by creating an exception for common law negligence, defamation, and invasion of privacy claims where malice or willful intent to injure the consumer is involved. See Morris v. Household Mortgage Servs., Inc., 350 F.Supp.2d 786, 787 (N.D. Ill. 2004). Therefore, the clear language of Section 1681h, which allows for certain state law claims, does not support the conclusion that Congress intended for the FCRA to completely preempt state law claims for purposes of removal.
  Furthermore, as part of the 1996 amendments to the FCRA, Congress added another preemption provision under Section 1681t(b)(1)(F). See Jordan, 377 F.Supp.2d at 1308. Section 1681t states in pertinent part:
(a) In general
Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, this subchapter does not annul, alter, affect, or exempt any person subject to the provisions of this subchapter from complying with the laws of any State with respect to the collection, distribution, or use of any information on consumers, or for the prevention or mitigation of identity theft, except to the extent that those laws are inconsistent with any provision of this subchapter, and then only to the extent of the inconsistency.
(b) General exceptions
(1) with respect to any subject matter regulated under —
(F) section 1681s-2 of this title, relating to the responsibilities of persons who furnish information to consumer reporting agencies. . . .
15 U.S.C. § 1681t(b)(1)(F). Section 1681t(b)(1)(F) sets forth a discrete preemption concerning Section 1681s-2*fn1 and in no way resembles Congress' grant of complete preemption in ERISA under 29 U.S.C. § 1144. See Watkins v. Trans Union, LLC, 118 F.Supp.2d 1217, 1222 (N.D. Ala. 2000).

  In addition, the legislative history pertaining to the 1996 additions to Section 1681t does not support sweeping preemptive intent. See id.; see also Sherron v. Greenwood Trust Co., 977 F.Supp. 804, 808 (N.D. Miss. 1997) (nothing in FCRA's legislative history or FCRA itself establishes Congress intended to make preempted state law claims removable to federal court). As such, the Court concludes that claims within the scope of the FCRA ...

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