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Myrick v. Equifax Information Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

October 24, 2017

GENE MYRICK, Plaintiff,
v.
EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          W. EARL BRITT, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on plaintiff Gene Myrick's motion for a certificate of appealability of the court's 3 August 2017 order granting in part, and denying in part, defendant Equifax Information Service, LLC's (“Equifax”) motion for summary judgment. (DE # 40.) Also before the court is an alternative motion filed by plaintiff seeking reconsideration of the same order. (DE # 46.) The issues raised have been fully briefed and are now ripe for disposition.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case concerns a dispute about information that Equifax, a consumer reporting agency (“CRA”), maintained and reported with respect to an account that plaintiff held with First Federal Bank (“FFB”). On 22 October 2015, plaintiff filed this lawsuit against Equifax, seeking actual damages, punitive damages, and costs and attorney's fees, for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq., and the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“UDTPA”), N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-1.1. (DE # 1.) On 21 October 2016, Equifax moved for summary judgment. (DE # 23.) By order dated 3 August 2017, this court granted in part and denied in part Equifax's motion for summary judgment. (DE # 35.) The court granted Equifax's motion as to plaintiffs FCRA and UDTPA claims with the exception of plaintiff's FCRA claim for negligent noncompliance under 15 U.S.C. § 1681. (Id. at 19.) Because the court determined that plaintiff had failed to produce sufficient evidence to support a claim for willful noncompliance under the FCRA, the court concluded that punitive damages were not available in this case. (Id. at 4.) With respect to actual damages, the court granted Equifax summary judgment on plaintiff's request for actual damages stemming from economic loss, but denied summary judgment on plaintiff's request for actual damages for his mental and emotional distress. (Id. at 16-17.)

         II. ANALYSIS

         The court will first consider whether to grant plaintiff's motion for reconsideration then address the motion for a certificate of appealability.

         A. Motion for Reconsideration

         Plaintiff asks the court to reconsider the portion of its order granting summary judgment in favor of Equifax on his claim for willful violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a) of the FCRA. (Pl.'s Supp. Mem., DE # 47, at 1-7.) Plaintiff also urges the court to reconsider its judgment in favor of Equifax with respect to his request for economic damages. (Id. at 7-10.)

         1. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), in the absence of an express order directing final judgment as to certain claims or parties:

[A]ny order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all of the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties, and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b) (emphasis added). Pursuant to this rule, “a district court retains the power to reconsider and modify its interlocutory judgments, including partial summary judgments, at any time prior to final judgment when such is warranted.” Am. Canoe Ass'n. v. Murphy Farms, Inc., 326 F.3d 505, 514-15 (4th Cir. 2003).

         “The power to reconsider or modify interlocutory rulings ‘is committed to the discretion of the district court, ' and that discretion is not cabined by the ‘heightened standards for reconsideration' governing final orders.” Saint Annes Dev. Co. v. Trabich, 443 F. App'x 829, 832 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Canoe, 326 F.3d at 514-15)). Nevertheless, a motion to reconsider an interlocutory order is appropriate only in “certain, limited circumstances.” Wiseman v. First Citizens Bank & Trust Co., 215 F.R.D. 507, 509 (W.D. N.C. 2003). Motions to reconsider are limited to the purpose of allowing the court to “correct manifest errors of law or fact or to consider newly discovered evidence, ” Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Willetts, 882 F.Supp.2d 859, 867 (E.D. N.C. 2012), and are improper if they serve to merely ask the court “to rethink what the Court had already thought through rightly or wrongly, ” Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannan Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983).

         2. ...


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