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FCRA Class Certification Defeated

We defeated a single plaintiff's attempt to certify a class action in federal court in Georgia consisting of thousands of individuals who were the subject of adverse consumer background reports. The plaintiff filed suit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, alleging that our client The Phillips Agency provided her employer with a criminal background report that contained inaccurate information about her. In connection with her allegations that The Phillips Agency failed to maintain strict procedures to ensure the accuracy of the criminal background report, the plaintiff asked the court to certify a class action consisting of all individuals who had ever been the subject of an adverse consumer background report generated by The Phillips Agency. We opposed class certification because there was no evidence that the proposed class members were the subject of inaccurate criminal background reports. We emphasized that The Phillips Agency had received only four consumer disputes over a five year period. The plaintiff countered that the accuracy of the reports ultimately did not matter if the company failed to utilize strict procedures in generating them.

In a case of first impression, the court held that a plaintiff must show that the criminal background report at issue is, in fact, inaccurate in order to establish a violation of Section 1681k(a)(2) of the FCRA. Because this would require the court to undertake individualized inquiries into the accuracy of each proposed class member's consumer report, the court held that class certification was inappropriate.

Farmer v. The Phillips Agency, 285 F.R.D. 685 (N.D. Ga. 2012).

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