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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The plaintiff-appellant, Kenneth M. Morris, disputed information contained in a credit report. Morris primarily disputed an account with Target opened by his wife, as her separate account, before Morris and his wife divorced. Morris wrote to Equifax Information Services LLC, demanding that they correct the information. Equifax responded that they did not maintain the information in the credit report, and Equifax forwarded the letter to CSC Credit Services. CSC sent an Automated Consumer Dispute Verification (ACDV) to Target on August 1, 2003. In its August 13, 2003 response to CSC, Target did not tell CSC to stop reporting the account in question as a joint account with Morris. Equifax, admittedly, and CSC, allegedly, did not report the results of this reinvestigation to Morris in August 2003. In September 2003, CSC sent another ACDV to Target. In its Sept. 19, 2003, response to CSC, Target again did not tell CSC to stop reporting the account as a joint account. While Equifax again did not report the results of this reinvestigation to Morris, CSC did report the results to Morris by letter dated Oct. 3, 2003, 76 days after Equifax received Morris’ dispute letter. On Jan. 8, 2004, Morris filed suit in Texas state court against both Equifax and CSC asserting claims for violations of the reinvestigation requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. �1681i, and also a state law libel claim. Equifax, with CSC’s consent, timely removed the case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. On March 22, 2005, Morris filed a motion for partial summary judgment based on Equifax’s admission that it did not comply with the FCRA’s reinvestigation provisions, 15 U.S.C. �1681i. Also on March 22, Equifax filed a motion for summary judgment on both of Morris’s claims, arguing that its receipt of Morris’ dispute letter did not trigger any obligation on its part to comply with �1681i, and on the ground that Morris’s libel claim was barred under �1681h(e) and conditional privilege under Texas state law. The case was referred to a magistrate judge who, on June 10, 2005, recommended that the district court deny Morris’s motion for partial summary judgment and grant Equifax’s motion for summary judgment. The magistrate judge recommended summary judgment for Equifax on Morris’s FCRA claim because CSC, not Equifax, owned Morris’ file and only CSC had the authority to modify the information in Morris’ file. The magistrate judge also recommended summary judgment for Equifax on the libel claim because “the court finds that Plaintiff failed to raise a fact issue on malice or willful intent.” In addition, the magistrate judge noted that, although “[t]he record demonstrates that Equifax published Plaintiff’s credit information[,] [n]othing in the record suggests that Equifax knew or should have known at that time that the information was false.” Morris filed objections to the magistrate judge’s memorandum and recommendation, arguing that the language of the FCRA does not allow a consumer reporting agency to avoid the reinvestigation obligations of 15 U.S.C. �1681i simply because it does not “own” the file. In his objections, Morris also argued that he had raised a fact issue concerning Equifax’s “malice” in that his evidence shows “Equifax knew of the falsity because Morris told them of the falsity, and Equifax did nothing but continue to publish the same false information without any effort to ascertain the truth.” After reviewing Morris’s objections, the district court, on June 28, 2005, adopted the magistrate judge’s memorandum and recommendation and entered a final judgment that Morris take nothing against Equifax. Morris timely appealed. HOLDING:The court reverses the summary judgment on the FCRA claim, affirms the summary judgment on the libel claim, and remands the case for further proceedings not inconsistent herewith on the FCRA claim. Equifax’s summary-judgment argument relied on its contractual relationship with CSC. According to Equifax, because CSC “owns” Morris’s file and only CSC can lawfully make any deletions, additions or alterations to it, only CSC is subject to the requirements of �1681i respecting that file. While no federal court of appeals has addressed this question, Equifax has successfully made this argument in at least two other federal district courts, including Zotta v. NationsCredit Financial Services Corp., 297 F. Supp. 2d 1196 (E.D. Mo. 2003). The district court here cited Zotta. Because the governing version of �1681i does not distinguish between a CRA that owns the consumer’s credit file and a CRA that distributes the consumer’s credit file, the court holds that the mere fact that a CRA does not own a consumer’s file does not of itself necessarily relieve that CRA of the reinvestigation requirements of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. �1681i. Morris viewed adverse credit information apparently transmitted to TrueCredit from the Equifax computer, and Morris then contacted Equifax directly to dispute the accuracy of that information in accordance with the FCRA. Section 1681i provides the “Procedure in case of disputed accuracy” and includes specific time requirements to ensure that consumer disputes are handled expeditiously. The procedures adopted by Equifax, while arguably reasonable, are not in accord with the requirements of section 1681i. The district court did not address whether Equifax either assembled or evaluated consumer credit information with respect to Morris, or acted as a CRA respecting Morris, within the meaning of �1681a(f). The court concludes that it is preferable that Equifax’s contentions in this respect be addressed in the first instance by the district court on remand. Morris presented no evidence that Equifax published false statements about Morris knowing the statements were false or with a reckless disregard of whether they were false. While Morris has presented evidence that Equifax knew that Morris claimed that there were false statements in the information that Equifax was publishing about Morris, this evidence does not show that Equifax knew these statements were false. Morris also argues that Equifax had a reckless disregard for whether the statements were false because “Equifax continued to publish the same false information about Morris without lifting a finger to determine whether the information was false or not.” To show reckless disregard, however, Morris must present sufficient evidence to permit the conclusion that the defendant in fact entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication. St. Amant v. Thompson, 88 S.Ct. 1323 (1968). In this case, there is no such evidence. As there is no evidence of malice, Morris’ libel claim fails under both �1681h(e) and the conditional privilege under Texas law. OPINION:Garwood, J.; Garwood, Higginbotham and Clement, J.J.

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