Carruthers v. American Honda Finance Corp., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67349 (N.D. Fla. June 3, 2010)
Facts: Plaintiff leased an automobile from Defendant. After surrendering the car at the end of the lease term, the Defendant found damage and sent the Plaintiff a bill for the cost of the repair. Plaintiff refused to pay, invoking a specific lease provision dealing with minor damage. While the dispute was ongoing, the Defendant reported the non-payment to a consumer reporting agency (“CRA”). Plaintiff filed suit asserting claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and state law. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and the Court granted the motion.
- Furnisher’s Duties. Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted under either subsection (a) or (b) of Section 1681s-2 of the FCRA. Subsection (a) creates no private right of action; only certain state and federal officials may enforce the subsection. Subsection (b) creates a private right of action, but the subsection applies by its plain terms only when the furnisher receives notice of a dispute from a CRA. According to the complaint, Defendant received notice of Plaintiff’s dispute from Plaintiff himself, not from a CRA.
- Preemption. Plaintiff’s state law claims are preempted under § 1681t(b)(1)(F). While breach of contract claims ordinarily are not preempted, Plaintiff does not allege that Defendant violated a specific term of the contract (the lease agreement). Instead, he alleges that Defendant violated the “covenant of good faith and fair dealing in every contract under Florida law.” The duty of good faith and fair dealing is implied by law, not voluntarily assumed. Thus, all of Plaintiff’s state law claims, including the claim that Defendant violated the duty of good faith and fair dealing, are preempted.
- Preemption. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant acted with malice, thus saving his claim from preemption under § 1681h(e).
- Preemption. The total-preemption approach to reconciling § 1681t(b)(1)(F) and § 1681h(e) is the correct reading of the statutes. This approach holds that 1681t(b)(1)(F) means what it says and thus preempts any state law claim against a furnisher arising from a requirement or prohibition imposed by state law, regardless of whether the claim is derived from statutory or common law, and regardless of when the claim arose. Plaintiff’s state law claims are preempted.