Question

The owners of a certain house had listed it for rental with Gatewood Realty, Inc. Ira Simonoff, a Gatewood broker, showed the house to brothers Jonathan and Robert Scott, who offered to rent the house at a lesser monthly rate than the owners had specified. Simonoff then asked the Scotts for certain background information. Jonathan Scott responded to Simonoff's request for his Social Security number by telling Simonoff that he (Simonoff) was not authorized to make a credit check. Robert Scott added that he did not want his credit checked. During the discovery phase of the litigation described below, Jonathan Scott testified that Simonoff assured him no credit check would be run. Both brothers testified that they understood Simonoff would not check their credit. Simonoff, however, testified that he informed the brothers of the house owners' requirement of a credit check and that one of the brothers had simply asked Simonoff not to have a credit check done "if at all possible." When Simonoff relayed the Scotts' offer to the owners, they insisted that credit checks be conducted. Simonoff therefore asked Peter Visconti, who was affiliated with Real Estate Finance Group (REFG), to check the Scotts' credit. According to later testimony by Visconti, Simonoff represented that he had written authorizations from the Scotts. (The Scotts denied that any such authorizations existed.) Visconti obtained credit reports on the Scotts by falsely representing to a computerized credit reporting service that he needed the reports to evaluate a mortgage application. He then supplied the credit reports to Simonoff. When a real estate broker working on behalf of the Scotts learned that Simonoff had obtained their credit reports, she so informed the Scotts. The Scotts filed suit against REFG, Gatewood, and Simonoff for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). After discovery, the Scotts moved for partial summary judgment against all defendants on the theory that they had obtained the Scotts' credit reports by means of false pretenses, in violation of the FCRA. Gatewood and Simonoff moved for summary judgment in their favor. The district court granted the Scotts' summary judgment motion as to REFG but not as to Gatewood and Simonoff. Instead, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Gatewood Realty and Simonoff and ordered dismissal of the Scotts' FRCA claim against them. The Scotts appealed the dismissal of their FCRA claim against Gatewood and Simonoff. How did the appellate court rule?



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  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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