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Hindle v. Toyota Motor Credit Corp.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 16, 2018

DEREK HINDLE AND MEREDITH PARTRIDGE, Plaintiff,
v.
TOYOTA MOTOR CREDIT CORPORATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          F. Dennis Saylor, IV United States District Judge.

         This is an action alleging false credit reporting arising from the termination of a vehicle lease. Plaintiffs Derek Hindle and Meredith Partridge allege that defendant Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (“TMCC”) violated federal and Massachusetts law by reporting inaccurate information to credit agencies concerning the termination of the lease for their automobile. The amended complaint asserts various causes of action, including claims for violations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and Mass. Gen Laws ch. 93A and claims under Massachusetts law for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.[1] TMCC has moved to dismiss all claims against it under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         I. Background

         A. Factual History

         The following facts are as alleged in the first amended complaint.

         In 2015, Derek Hindle and Meredith Partridge leased a Toyota Prius from the Boch Toyota South (“Boch”) dealership in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 8). The lease was held by TMCC. (Am. Compl. ¶ 19).

         In the spring of 2017, Hindle and Partridge decided to purchase the Prius in order to lower their monthly payments. (Am. Compl. ¶ 20). On June 30, 2017, Hindle met with a Boch employee and signed paperwork that authorized Boch to pay off the remaining amount of the lease to TMCC, purchase the Prius from TMCC, and then sell the Prius to Hindle and Partridge. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 21, 26). Hindle paid the Boch employee a $300 deposit. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 27-28).

         On July 3, 2017, Boch paid off the lease and purchased the Prius from TMCC. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 29-30). On July 5, TMCC delivered the title to the Prius to Boch. (Am. Compl. ¶ 31). It appears that Hindle and Partridge continued to possess the Prius after July 3.

         Hindle and Partridge allege that they attempted to set up a time to sign paperwork for a purchase loan Hindle was to receive from Boch. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 32-44). After both sides apparently experienced scheduling issues, a Boch employee allegedly called Hindle and Partridge on July 25 and left a voicemail for each stating that they needed to come in and sign the loan paperwork immediately or Boch would “report the car as stolen.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 44, 49). Apparently, Hindle and Partridge never executed the necessary paperwork, and thus never purchased the car.

         Later that day, Hindle spoke with a TMCC representative on the phone; in their conversation, the representative told Hindle that the lease was terminated and that Boch was the Prius's new owner. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 53-55). TMCC also sent a letter to Hindle on July 25 that stated the lease was terminated. (Am. Compl. ¶ 56). That evening, Hindle turned the Prius in to Boch and canceled the car's registration with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. (Am. Comp ¶ 57).

         At some point in the following days, Hindle received an e-mail from TMCC stating that his “monthly lease statement” was available. (Am. Compl. ¶ 61). Hindle called TMCC and was told that TMCC had “reactivated” the lease on July 31. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 62-63). After Hindle told TMCC there had been a mistake, a TMCC representative allegedly told him to bring his complaint to “corporate.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 65-66). Hindle called and lodged a complaint with what he believed to be TMCC's “corporate” office. (Am. Compl. ¶ 67). He called “corporate” a second time on August 10. (Am. Compl. ¶ 69).

         Boch later returned to Hindle the $300 deposit that he had paid on June 30. (Am. Compl. ¶ 70). In September, Hindle and Partridge sent a demand letter under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A to both Boch and TMCC; among other things, the letter stated that Hindle and Partridge “underst[ood] [TMCC] [was] reporting [their] lease payments as late and undisputed, ” that such reporting was “hurting [their] credit, ” that they felt it was “unfair of [TMCC] to be reporting the payments as late and undisputed, ” and that they were “disputing their alleged liability for payments due under the lease.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 71-74).

         According to the complaint, TMCC continued to report Hindle and Partridge's late lease payments as “undisputed” to credit bureaus. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 82-83). On October 3, 2017, Hindle and Partridge wrote TMCC a letter advising that they continued to dispute the alleged liability. (Am. Compl. ¶ 84).

         On December 6, 2017, Hindle and Partridge sent letters to the credit bureaus Equifax, Transunion, and Experian stating that they were disputing their alleged liability on the Prius. (Am. Compl. ¶ 88). Equifax, in turn, notified TMCC that Hindle disputed the liability. According to the complaint, TMCC continued nonetheless to report to Equifax that Hindle's liability was undisputed. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 91-92).

         B. Proce ...


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