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Logsdon v. Dennison Corp.

June 7, 2007

RICHARD LOGSDON AND BRIENNE LOGSDON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DENNISON CORP., D/B/A BOB DENNISON AUTO CENTER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge

ORDER

This matter is now before the Court on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion [#48] is DENIED, and Defendant's Motion [#51] is GRANTED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Richard and Brienne Logsdon came to Defendant Dennison's dealership in Bloomington, Illinois, to purchase an automobile on July 18, 2005. They initially sought to purchase and finance a 2000 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition, and Mr. Logsdon provided Dennison with the information necessary to complete an application for financing. Mrs. Logsdon also signed a completed Ford Credit Application. They understood that their credit reports would be accessed as part of the effort to obtain financing.

Different lenders have different credit qualification requirements. It is therefore Dennison's practice to obtain customer credit reports with the customer's permission so that it can rule out those lenders with whom they would not be qualified for credit. Ultimately, the Logsdons were not able to qualify for financing for the Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition. They then sought to obtain financing for a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT, and a credit application was subsequently approved through CitiFinancial. On July 21, 2005, a Retail Installment Sales Contract ("RISC") was prepared for the purchase, with Mr. Logsdon's grandfather co-signing. The Logsdon's were given an allowance of $1,200.00 for their trade-in Oldsmobile Achieva and were to make a $200 down payment. That day, the Logsdons delivered their trade-in and made the down payment, and Dennison delivered the Explorer XLT to them. Mr. Logsdon applied to have the license plates from the Achieva transferred to the Explorer XLT, and Dennison paid off an $884.09 personal loan of Mr. Logsdon's that was secured by the Achieva. At that point, the Logsdon's had effectively accepted and used the credit extended by CitiFinancial.

In late July 2005, the Logsdon's began to shop for another automobile at Leman's Chevy City. They selected and agreed to purchase a 2005 Pontiac Bonneville. The purchase of the Bonneville was finalized on August 3, 2005, and at that time, a Leman's employee returned the Explorer XLT to Dennison at Mr. Logsdon's request. At that time, the Logsdons had had the Explorer XLT for 13 days and Dennison asserts that they had driven it for 1,206 miles during that time.

Meanwhile, on August 1, 2005, CitiFinancial requested clarification on several items of information on the Logsdons' credit application, most of which were easily resolved. The one item remaining was the proper calculation of their $200 down payment on the face of the RISC. CitiFinancial asked Dennison to obtain Mr. Logsdon's initials on a change showing the $200 down payment correctly on the current RISC or alternatively, that a new RISC be prepared for his signature. Mr. Logsdon refused to do either, despite the fact that he understood that financing had been obtained for the purchase of the Explorer XLT. The Logsdons made no payments on the Explorer XLT, and Dennison concluded that the Logsdons had abandoned the vehicle.

On August 23, 2005, the Logsdons filed this lawsuit, alleging that Dennison: (1) violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1691, by not providing Mr. Logsdon with a statement of reasons for the denial of credit and providing him with a false notice of approval; (2) violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, by failing to provide him with the information required by 15 U.S.C. § 1681m(a)(2) and (a)(3); (3) wrongfully converted his Oldsmobile Achieva; and (4) violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, 815 ILCS 505/1, et seq. The parties have now filed cross motions for summary judgment. The motions are fully briefed, and this Order follows.

DISCUSSION

Summary judgment should be granted where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party has the responsibility of informing the Court of portions of the record or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The moving party may meet its burden of showing an absence of disputed material facts by demonstrating "that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).

If the moving party meets its burden, the non-moving party then has the burden of presenting specific facts to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and produce evidence of a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Nevertheless, this Court must "view the record and all inferences drawn from it in the light most favorable to the [non-moving party]." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). Summary judgment will be denied where a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995).

I. Equal Credit Opportunity Act ("ECOA") Claims

As originally enacted, the purpose of the ECOA was to prohibit discrimination in credit transactions. Treadway v. Gateway Chevrolet Oldsmobile, Inc., 362 F.3d 971, 975 (7th Cir. 2004). It was subsequently amended to require "creditors" to provide written notice of specific reasons why an adverse action was taken against a consumer applying for credit. Id.; 15 U.S.C. 1681(d)(2). To be liable under the statute, a defendant must be a "creditor" and must also have taken an adverse action against the plaintiff. Treadway, 362 F.3d at 975.

Dennison argues that it cannot be liable under the ECOA because it is not a "creditor" under the statute. A "creditor"is defined for the purposes of the ECOA as "any person who regularly extends, renews, or continues credit; any person who regularly arranges for the extension, renewal, or continuation of credit; or any assignee of an original creditor who participates in the decision to extend, renew, or continue ...


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