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Auer v. Trans Union, LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

September 6, 2018

Colleen M. Auer, Plaintiff- Appellant,
v.
Trans Union, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company, Defendant, CBCInnovis, Inc., a Pennsylvania Corporation; City of Minot, a North Dakota Municipal Corporation; Smith, Bakke, Porsborg, Schweigert & Armstrong, a North Dakota General Partnership; John Does 1-100, inclusive, Defendants - Appellees.

          Submitted: April 9, 2018

          Appeal from United States District Court for the District of North Dakota - Bismarck

          Before COLLOTON, SHEPHERD, and STRAS, Circuit Judges.

          COLLOTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         This appeal concerns claims brought by Colleen Auer against several defendants: the City of Minot (her former employer); the law firm of Smith, Bakke, Porsborg, Schweigert & Armstrong; and the consumer reporting agency CBCInnovis, Inc. (CBC). Auer alleged that these parties violated their obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., in handling a consumer report that she agreed to provide as part of her application for employment with the City.

         The district court dismissed Auer's claims against the City and the law firm for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and granted judgment on the pleadings for CBC under Rule 12(c). Auer appeals these orders, and a separate order directing the City and the Smith law firm to dispose of copies of her consumer report that remained in their possession. Because Auer lacked Article III standing to bring her claims in federal court, we vacate the district court's orders and remand with instructions that Auer's complaint be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

         I.

         On February 26, 2014, Auer accepted appointment as the city attorney for the City of Minot. Several days later, the City's human resources director requested that Auer authorize a background check. Auer completed and signed an authorization form. The single-page form was entitled "Authorization to Release Information and Waiver," and contained the following three paragraphs of text:

I hereby authorize representatives of the City of Minot to obtain any information in my files pertaining to my driver's license records, criminal history records, education records; credit records; and personal history records.
I hereby direct you and release you, as the custodian of such records, and any school, college, university or other education institution, credit bureau or related personnel, both individually or collectively, from any and all liability for damages of whatever kind, which may be at any time result to me, my heirs, family or associates because of compliance with this authorization and request to release information, or any attempt to comply with it.
Should there be any questions as to the validity of this release, you may contact me as indicated below.

         The form then included a space for Auer's signature, and several spaces for Auer to input her identifying information, including her social security number and driver's license number.

         After Auer signed the authorization form, the City's police department completed a background check. As part of the investigation, the police department obtained Auer's credit report from the consumer reporting agency CBC. CBC had obtained Auer's credit information from another consumer reporting agency, Trans Union, LLC.

         On May 2, 2014, the City terminated Auer's employment as city attorney. Auer filed claims against the City for wrongful termination, and requested that the City provide her with records related to her employment and termination, including her complete personnel file. The City retained the Smith law firm for representation in that action and for assistance in responding to Auer's records request. The City, in an attempt to comply with the records request, provided the law firm with Auer's authorization form and associated credit check. The law firm then ...


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