TRW Inc. v. Andrews, 534 U.S. 19 (2001)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 00-1045. Argued October 9, 2001—Decided November 13, 2001

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA or Act) requires credit reporting agencies, inter alia, to maintain "reasonable procedures" to avoid improper disclosures of consumer credit information. 15 U. S. C. 1681e(a). The Act's limitations provision prescribes that an action to enforce any liability created under the Act must be brought "within two years from the date on which the liability arises, except that where a defendant has . . . willfully misrepresented any information required under [the Act] to be disclosed to [the plaintiff] and the information . . . is material to [a claim under the Act], the action may be brought at any time within two years after [the plaintiff's] discovery of the misrepresentation." 1681p.

Plaintiff-respondent Adelaide Andrews visited a doctor's office in Santa Monica, California, and there filled out a form listing her name, Social Security number, and other basic information. An office receptionist named Andrea Andrews (the Impostor) copied the data and moved to Las Vegas, where she attempted to open credit accounts using Andrews' Social Security number and her own last name and address.

On July 25, September 27, and October 28, 1994, and on January 3, 1995, defendant-petitioner TRW Inc. furnished copies of Andrews' credit report to companies from which the Impostor sought credit. Andrews did not learn of these disclosures until May 31, 1995, when she sought to refinance her home and in the process received a copy of her credit report reflecting the Impostor's activity. She sued TRW for injunctive and monetary relief on October 21, 1996, alleging that TRW had violated the Act by failing to verify, predisclosure of her credit report to third parties, that Adelaide Andrews of Santa Monica initiated the credit applications or was otherwise involved in the underlying transactions. TRW moved for partial summary judgment, arguing, inter alia, that the FCRA's statute of limitations had expired on Andrews' claims stemming from TRW's first two disclosures because both occurred more than two years before she brought suit. Andrews countered that the limitations period on those claims did not commence until she discovered the disclosures. The District Court held the two claims time barred, reasoning that 1681p's explicit exception, which covers only misrepresentation claims, precludes judicial attribution of a broader discovery rule


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