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Eustice v. Jpmorgan Chase & Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

July 12, 2019

JPMORGAN CHASE & CO., Defendant.


          Lee H. Rosenthal, Chief United States District Judge.

         Christopher Eustice sued JPMorgan Chase & Co., alleging breach of contract, promissory estoppel, fraud, and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Texas Debt Collection Act, and the Texas Financial Code. (Docket Entry No. 1-1). Chase timely removed and moved for judgment on the pleadings. (Docket Entry No. 1, 6). Eustice then amended his complaint and asked the court to deny the motion for judgment on the pleadings as moot. (Docket Entry Nos. 10, 12). Chase moved to dismiss the amended complaint, Eustice responded, and Chase replied. (Docket Entry Nos. 15, 17, 18).

         Based on the amended complaint; the motion, response, and reply; and the applicable law, the court grants Chase's motion to dismiss, without prejudice and with leave to amend, no later than August 16, 2019. (Docket Entry No. 15). The reasons for this ruling are set out below.

         I. Background

         Eustice alleges, without specifying when, that he opened four personal and business bank accounts, three personal credit cards, and one business credit card with Chase Bank. (Docket Entry No. 12 at ¶ 6). According to Eustice, Chase extended almost $100, 000 in credit across the four credit cards. (Id. at ¶ 7). In November 2018, Chase “revoked those cards” for nonpayment. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-8). Eustice alleges that the revocation has damaged his credit. (Id. at ¶ 7).

         Eustice alleges that Chase's revocation was not based on nonpayment because he had never missed a payment. (Id. at ¶ 8). According to Eustice, Chase instead revoked the cards “because he filed internal [Fair Credit Reporting Act] billing disputes for returned merchandise and defective merchandise.” (Id. at ¶ 9). Eustice alleges that Chase has given credit bureaus inaccurate information about him, including reporting a $25, 000 credit-card debt that he disputes. (Id. at ¶¶ 11-12).

         II. The Legal Standard

         Rule 12(b)(6) allows dismissal if a plaintiff fails “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Rule 12(b)(6) must be read in conjunction with Rule 8(a), which requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint must contain “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). Rule 8 “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         The court should generally give a plaintiff at least one chance to amend under Rule 15(a) before dismissing the action with prejudice, unless it is clear that to do so would be futile. See Carroll v. Fort James Corp., 470 F.3d 1171, 1175 (5th Cir. 2006) (“[Rule 15(a)] evinces a bias in favor of granting leave to amend.” (quotation omitted)); Great Plains Tr. Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 313 F.3d 305, 329 (5th Cir. 2002) (“[D]istrict courts often afford plaintiffs at least one opportunity to cure pleading deficiencies before dismissing a case, unless it is clear that the defects are incurable or the plaintiffs advise the court that they are unwilling or unable to amend in a manner that will avoid dismissal.”). A court may deny a motion to amend for futility if an amended complaint would fail to state a claim on which relief could be granted, using the Rule 12(b)(6) standard. Pervasive Software Inc. v. Lexware GmbH & Co. KG, 688 F.3d 214, 232 (5th Cir. 2012). The district court has discretion to grant or deny leave to amend. Id.

         III. Analysis

         Because Eustice is representing himself, the court construes his filings liberally, examining them under “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Even so, self-represented litigants “‘must abide by' the rules that govern the federal courts.” Frazier v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 541 Fed.Appx. 419, 421 (5th Cir. 2013) (per curiam). “Pro se litigants must properly plead sufficient facts that, when liberally construed, state a plausible claim to relief, serve defendants, obey discovery orders, present summary judgment evidence, file a notice of appeal, and brief arguments on appeal.” E.E.O.C. v. Simbaki, Ltd., 767 F.3d 475, 484 (5th Cir. 2014).

         A. The Fair Credit Billing Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act Claims

         Eustice alleges that Chase “has failed to report disputed transactions and debts to the credit bureaus” and “pulled [his] credit report without permissible purpose, ” in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. (Docket Entry No. 12 at ¶¶ 21-22). Chase argues that Eustice has not alleged facts supporting his “baseless claims” or given “a single instance that Chase ever engaged in the conduct alleged.” (Docket Entry No. 15 at 5).

         The Fair Credit Reporting Act imposes two general duties on those who give credit information to credit reporting agencies: (1) “a [d]uty of furnishers of information to provide accurate information, ” 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(a); and (2) “[d]uties of furnishers of information upon notice of dispute, ” including to investigate disputes, correct inaccurate information, and inform the credit reporting agency of an investigation's results, 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b). The Fair Credit Reporting Act also imposes civil liability on a person who willfully or negligently obtains a consumer report for a purpose that the FCRA does not authorize. Norman v. Northland Grp., Inc., 495 Fed.Appx. 425, 426 (5th Cir. ...

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