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Dyson v. Sky Chefs, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

June 15, 2017

MARSHALL DYSON, individually and as a representative of the class, Plaintiff,



         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Due to Lack of Article III Standing, or in the alternative, Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Doc. 49. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion.



         This is a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) case. In December 2015, Plaintiff applied to work for Defendants as a cook. Doc. 1, Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 20. As part of the employment application process, Defendants provided applicants with the following Disclosure and Authorization Form:

         Image Omitted

Doc. 1-1, Pl.'s Ex. 1, Discl. & Auth. Form.

         Plaintiff, as will soon become apparent, maintains that the Disclosure and Authorization Form violates the FCRA. Defendants, by contrast, say that Plaintiff was provided with at least two additional background check disclosures, all of which complied with the FCRA. Doc. 49, Defs.' Mot. for Dismiss. Due to Lack of Art. III Standing or, in the Alternative, Mot. for J. on Pl. [hereinafter Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss] 3; Doc. 50, Defs.' App. Supp. Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss 1-2 [hereinafter Defs.' App.], Ex. A, Marshall Dyson Disclosure Forms. Nevertheless, Plaintiff signed the form when he applied. See id.; Doc. 1-1, Pl.'s Ex. 1, Discl. & Auth. Form.

         About a week later, Defendants offered Plaintiff a job as a cook. Doc. 1, Pl.'s Compl. ¶¶ 39-40. The offer letter's last paragraph explained that the offer was “‘contingent upon the successful completion of the pre-employment process including but not limited to background and employment checks.'” Id. ¶ 40 (quoting Doc. 1-1, Pl.'s Ex. 3, Offer Letter). Plaintiff accepted the position and signed the document. Id. ¶ 39. Defendants, in turn, procured a consumer report on Plaintiff on January, 1, 2016, and hired him shortly thereafter. Id. ¶ 41.

         Plaintiff claims that, due to the Disclosure and Authorization's Form's non-compliance with the FCRA, Defendants obtained information about him that they had no legal right to obtain. Id. ¶ 42. Plaintiff further claims that Defendants did the same to thousands of their other employees. Id. ¶ 54. On that basis, Plaintiff filed his Complaint on behalf of himself and a putative class, asserting that Defendants violated the FCRA's stand-alone disclosure requirement. Id. ¶¶ 54-64 (citing 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2)). Plaintiff does not claim that he or the putative class suffered any actual damages, but seeks instead statutory damages, putative damages, costs, and attorneys' fees. Id. ¶ 64.

         Defendants then moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), arguing that Plaintiff lacked standing to sue, or alternatively, that he failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Doc. 49, Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss. Plaintiff responded to Defendants' Motion. Doc. 53, Pl.'s Resp. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [hereinafter Pl.'s Resp.]. And Defendants replied. Doc. 56, Defs.' Reply in Further Supp. of Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [hereinafter Defs.' Reply]. The Motion is therefore ripe for the Court's review.



         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 7(a); 5C Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice & Procedure § 1367 (internal footnotes omitted) (“Rule 7(a) provides that the pleadings are closed upon the filing of a complaint and an answer (absent a court-ordered reply), unless a counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim is interposed, in which event the filing of a reply to a counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party answer normally will mark the close of the pleadings.”). The pleadings in this case are closed and Defendants timely filed their Motion. Thus, the Court may properly consider Defendants' Rule 12(c) challenge.

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings “is designed to dispose of cases where the material facts are not in dispute and a judgment on the merits can be rendered by looking to the substance of the pleadings and any judicially noticed facts.” Herbert Abstract Co. v. Touchstone Props., Ltd., 914 F.2d 74, 76 (5th Cir. 1990). The standard for evaluating a Rule 12(c) motion is the same as the standard for evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Doe v. Myspace, Inc., 528 F.3d 413, 418 (5th Cir. 2008). That holds true regardless of whether the Rule 12(c) motion raises Article III standing or other merits arguments. See Brown v. Livingston, 524 F. App'x 111, 114 (5th Cir. 2013); see also Hosein v. Gonzales, 452 F.3d 401, 403 (5th Cir. 2006) (“We may affirm a district court's Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal on any grounds supported by the record, including a party's lack of standing.”).

         The Court may look to “allegations in the complaint and to those documents attached to a defendant's motion to dismiss to the extent that those documents are referred to in the complaint and are central to the claims.” Cox v. Cent. Insurex Agency, Inc., No. 3:11-cv-2267-B, 2012 WL 253882, at *2 (N.D. Tex. Jan 26, 2012) (citing Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004)).

         Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a plaintiff's complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “[t]he court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dall. Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004)).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. When well-pleaded facts fail to achieve this plausibility standard, “the complaint has alleged-but it has not shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. at 679 (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted).



         A. The FCRA's Stand-Alone Disclosure Requirement

         The FCRA provides that a person may not procure a consumer report, or cause a consumer report to be procured, for employment ...

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