NEW ORLEANS– The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court has upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a dispute between a Louisiana woman and several businesses.

Emily Wagner originally filed suit in 2007 against BellSouth Telecommunications Inc., Franklin Collection Service Inc. and Equifax Credit Information Services Inc., alleging that BellSouth billed her for two unauthorized phone services.

Wagner did not pay the two bills and BellSouth referred the accounts to Franklin Collection Service which tried to collect on the debt and reported the accounts to Equifax. Equifax then reported the accounts as adverse notations.

The suit claimed that BellSouth violated the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act for assigning unauthorized accounts to collection agencies, that Franklin violated the Fair Debt Collection  Practices Act by supplying an incorrect date of delinquency to Equifax and that Equifax violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act for failing to use reasonable procedures to ensure accuracy in her credit file.

All three companies moved for summary judgment and the district court granted them.

In the cases of BellSouth and Franklin, the district court found the statute of limitations had expired for both claims. Both the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act require a claim be brought within a year of a violation and any violations by BellSouth and Franklin occurred more than a year after the case was filed.

Equifax was awarded summary judgment because Wagner failed to establish actual damages caused by the company.

In a per curiam opinion filed April 5, Circuit Judges Thomas Morrow Reavley, E. Grady Jolly and W. Eugene Davis affirmed the district court’s ruling.

The Appeals Court held that Wagner was asking for damages based on the reduction of her credit line and emotional distress. The judges maintain that a credit line reduction is not sufficient to claim damages in a Fair Credit Reporting Act claim.

They further held that “Wagner has presented no evidence of injury beyond her own conclusory assertions about emotional distress, which are insufficient to support an emotional damages award.”

Case No. 12-31080.

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