United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee United States District Judge
Yvonne Baranowski has sued Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC
(“PRA”) for violating the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. §
1692e(8), alleging that PRA communicated Baranowski's
debt to credit reporting agencies without indicating that she
had disputed the debt. The parties have cross-moved for
summary judgment  , and for the following reasons,
the Court grants Baranowski's motion and denies PRA's
fell behind on her credit card payments to Comenity Capital
Bank/Home Shopping Network (“HSN credit account”)
in 2012. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 1. She had
used the credit card to purchase items such as clothing,
small electronics, and household items. Pl.'s LR
56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 6. Defendant PRA purchased the
obligation owed on the HSN credit account in 2014, after
Baranowski's debt became delinquent. Def.'s LR
56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 1.
PRA sued Baranowski regarding the debt, she hired attorneys
during the first week of October 2014. Pl.'s LR
56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 8. Baranowski met with her attorneys
and reviewed her credit report to ensure that it was accurate
and to correct any inaccuracies. Id. ¶ 9. She
told her attorneys that she did not believe that the amount
of $1, 550.00 was accurate and that it should have been
around $700 or $800. Id. ¶ 10.
October 17, 2014, Baranowski's attorneys faxed a letter
to PRA that stated in part that “the amount reported is
not accurate.” Id. ¶ 11; see
Def.'s Ex. C, 10/17/14 Letter from Attorney Finko to PRA.
That day, PRA received the letter and reviewed it. Pl.'s
LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 12. After receiving and
reviewing the letter, PRA communicated credit information to
the Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion credit-reporting
agencies related to the alleged debt without also noting that
the debt was disputed. Id. ¶ 15.
filed this lawsuit alleging that PRA's conduct violated
the FDCPA. Discovery has concluded, and the parties have
cross-moved for summary judgment. PRA argues that Baranowski
lacks Article III standing to bring suit. Alternatively, PRA
contends that Baranowski has failed to establish an FDCPA
violation and that the bona fide error defense applies.
Baranowski counters that there are no triable issues of fact
regarding whether PRA violated the FDCPA.
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court gives “the non-moving
party the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and reasonable
inferences that could be drawn from it.”
Grochocinski v. Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, LLP, 719
F.3d 785, 794 (7th Cir. 2013). “At summary judgment a
court may not assess the credibility of witnesses, choose
between competing inferences or balance the relative weight
of conflicting evidence; it must view all the evidence in the
record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party
and resolve all factual disputes in favor of the non-moving
party.” Abdullahi v. City of Madison, 423 F.3d
763, 773 (7th Cir. 2005). The nonmovant “must establish
some genuine issue for trial such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict in her favor.” Gordon v.
FedEx Freight, Inc., 674 F.3d 769, 772-73 (7th Cir.
Article III standing, Baranowski must establish “(i) an
injury in fact, which is an invasion of a legally protected
interest that is concrete and particularized and, thus,
actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (ii) a
causal relation between the injury and the challenged
conduct, such that the injury can be fairly traced to the
challenged action of the defendant; and (iii) a likelihood
that the injury will be redressed by a favorable
decision.” Wis. Right to Life, Inc. v.
Schober, 366 F.3d 485, 489 (7th Cir. 2004) (quotations
omitted); see also Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife,
504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992). PRA asserts that Baranowski has
not suffered an injury in fact, relying on Spokeo, Inc.
v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540 (2016).
Spokeo, the plaintiff alleged a violation of the
Fair Credit Reporting Act based on a website's inaccurate
profile of him that stated he was married with children, in
his 50's, was employed and relatively affluent, and held
a graduate degree-none of which were true. Id. at
1546. Although the Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff's
allegations were sufficient for Article III standing, the
Supreme Court vacated the decision and remanded the case,
holding that concrete injury is required “even in the
context of a statutory violation” because “not
all inaccuracies cause harm or present any material risk of
harm.” Id. at 1549-50. The Court explained
that “[t]his does not mean, however that the risk of
real harm cannot satisfy the requirement of
concreteness.” Id. “[B]ecause Congress
is well positioned to identify intangible harms that meet
minimum Article III requirements, its judgment is also
instructive and important.” Id.
“Congress may ‘elevat[e] to the status of legally
cognizable injuries concrete, de facto injuries that
were previously inadequate in law.'” Id.
(quoting Lujan, 504 U.S. at 578). “In other
words, a plaintiff in such a case need not allege any
additional harm beyond the one Congress has
the Seventh Circuit has not had occasion to consider Article
III standing for FDCPA violations after Spokeo,
several district courts within the Seventh Circuit and other
circuit courts have . . . held that violations of the FDCPA
constitute concrete injuries in fact, sufficient to find
Article III standing.” Smith v. GC Servs. Ltd.
P'ship, No. 116CV01897RLYDML, 2017 WL 2629476, at *2
(S.D. Ind. June 19, 2017); see Sayles v. Adv. Recovery
Sys., Inc., 865 F.3d 246, 250 (5th Cir. 2017);
Church v. Accretive Health, Inc., 654 F. App'x
990, 994 (11th Cir. 2016); Flores v. Portfolio Recovery
Assocs., LLC, No. 15 C 02443, 2017 WL 5891032, at *3
(N.D. Ill. Nov. 29, 2017); Paz v. Portfolio Recovery
Assocs., LLC, No. 15 C 5073, 2016 WL 6833932, at *2
(N.D. Ill. Nov. 21, 2016); Evans v. Portfolio Recovery
Assocs., LLC, No. 15 C 4498, 2016 WL 6833930, at *3
(N.D. Ill. Nov. 20, 2016); Bowse v. Portfolio Recovery
Assocs., LLC, 218 F.Supp.3d 745, 749 (N.D. Ill. 2016).
And several courts have specifically held that Congress, in
enacting section 1692e(8), recognized that a debt
collector's failure to report a disputed debt presents a
risk of real harm because it detrimentally affects one's
credit score. See Sayles, 865 F.3d at 250 (holding
that a violation of § 1692e(8) “exposed Sayles to
a real risk of financial harm caused by an inaccurate ...