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Huertas v. Transunion

May 6, 2010

HECTOR L. HUERTAS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TRANSUNION, LLC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Simandle, District Judge

OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on the motion of Defendant Dishnetwork/Echostar ("Dishnetwork") for summary judgment and for Rule 11 sanctions [Docket Item 59], as well as Plaintiff's motion to file a Third Amended Complaint [Docket Item 63]. The principal issue to be decided is whether a settlement agreement Plaintiff entered with former defendant AFNI, Inc., and which covers AFNI's "clients," also settled Plaintiff's claims against Dishnetwork.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff initially brought this action under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 against three defendants: Transunion LLC, a credit reporting agency, AFNI Inc., a debt collection firm, and T-Mobile, a cellular telephone services company. Plaintiff alleged that AFNI and T-Mobile improperly obtained his credit report from Transunion without a lawful purpose under the Act. Shortly after filing, Plaintiff amended the complaint to add as defendants engaging in the same alleged conduct another debt collection firm, Assetcare Inc., and its parent company, NCO Group Inc. AFNI was the only defendant to answer or otherwise respond to either complaint.

On March 6, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint, dismissing Transunion and AFNI because those parties reached a settlement with Plaintiff, and adding Dishnetwork and a debt collection firm, Bureau of Collection Recovery, Inc. The Second Amended Complaint also added two more counts; one under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 based on the debt collection firms' efforts to collect unidentified debts and one under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1962 based on an alleged conspiracy to collect a false satellite dish debt.

The settlement reached with AFNI prior to the filing of the Second Amended Complaint released AFNI and, among other parties, its "clients." Defendant Dishnetwork, who was added to this action by the Second Amended Complaint, moves for summary judgment based on the settlement agreement releasing AFNI and its clients.*fn1 Defendant also seeks Rule 11 sanctions, arguing that adding Defendant to the Second Amended Complaint was frivolous in light of the settlement agreement reached after Plaintiff moved to amend.

Finally, Plaintiff seeks to file a Third Amended Complaint.*fn2

As originally proposed, the Third Amended Complaint would add a new defendant, a debt collection firm called ER Solutions, and additional RICO claims involving T-Mobile and Dishnetwork's conspiring with ER Solutions to collect allegedly false debts. Since this motion was filed, Plaintiff has settled with T-Mobile and the Bureau of Collection Recovery, Inc., who have been dismissed. The only existing party included in a possible Third Amended Complaint would therefore be Dishnetwork, who opposes the amendment.

III. SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A. Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when the materials of record "show that 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)(2). The court must view the evidence presented in favor of the non-moving party by extending any reasonable favorable inference to that party. Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 552 (1999). The nonmoving party must adduce evidence of specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. U.S. v. Premises Known as 717 S. Woodward Street, Allentown, Pa., 2 F.3d 529, 533 (3d Cir. 1993).

Local Civil Rule 56.1(a) requires the movant to provide a Statement of Material Facts not in Dispute, and the non-movant to respond to the movant's statement paragraph-by-paragraph. Failure to respond means that the facts shall be deemed undisputed for purposes of the summary judgment motion, in accordance with the amended text of L. Civ. R. 56.1(a). See also White v. Camden City ...


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