Plaintiff, hoping to recover from Equifax for issuing a credit report with “incorrect and damaging information,” sought to represent a class of “all persons who disputed an Equifax credit report and where Equifax failed to apply the proper and appropriate [Fair Credit Reporting Act, (“FCRA”)] procedures.” On defendant’s motion to strike these class allegations, the federal district court in New Jersey said, “this Court would never grant a motion for class certification involving this class definition.”

According to the court, this class definition failed the ascertainability test. In particular, the alleged failure to apply “proper and appropriate FCRA procedures” lacked reference to objective criteria. It did not answer what specific procedures were proper, for example, or how the determination of “proper and appropriate” was made. There was also “no reliable and administratively feasible mechanism” for determining which class members fell within this definition, necessitating inappropriate individualized fishing expeditions to search for unspecified FCRA violations. The court distinguished plaintiff’s case from other Equifax FCRA cases that had been certified, noting that the other cases defined the class “clearly and crisply” by “reference to clear objective criteria,” such as whether Equifax received a complaint from a consumer. As a result, the court struck plaintiff’s class allegations.

Martinez v. Equifax Inc., No. 15-2100 (SRC) (D.N.J. Jan. 19, 2016).