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Wilson v. Prudential Financial

March 1, 2007

DEREK T. WILSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No.: 61

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING DEFENDANT CARCO'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff, Derek T. Wilson, allegedly lost his offer for at-will employment with Prudential Financial ("Prudential") due to a problematic background check. He brings suit against the company that processed his background check, Carco Group, Inc. ("Carco"), alleging negligence (Count 1) and defamation (Count 2). In an October 18, 2004 Memorandum Opinion, the court granted Carco's motion to dismiss Count 2 of the plaintiff's complaint.

The case is now before the court on Carco's motion for summary judgment as to the remaining negligence count. Because this case concerns matters outside of the "realm of common knowledge and everyday experience," District of Columbia v. White, 442 A.2d 159, 164 (D.C. 1982), the plaintiff must present expert testimony for the fact finder in establishing a prima facie case of negligence. And because the plaintiff has failed to secure expert testimony through discovery, the plaintiff will be unable as a matter of law to prove negligence. Accordingly, the court grants Carco's motion for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual History

The court discussed the facts of this case in Wilson v. Prudential Fin.,2004 WL 1898290 (D.D.C. Aug. 13, 2004), and, therefore, limits the background information in this opinion to that necessary to resolve the instant motion. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges the following facts: in 2002, Prudential offered the plaintiff a position for at-will employment, and the plaintiff accepted the offer. Compl. ¶¶ 2 and 4. On August 1, 2002, Prudential sent the plaintiff a letter "confirming his acceptance of [Prudential's] offer" and indicating that the offer was contingent on the satisfactory completion of a background-verification process that Prudential expected to take ten days. Id. ¶¶ 5-6, 25.

Carco is a "consumer reporting agency," as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. Carco's Mot. for Summary Judgment ("Def.'s Mot.") at 3; Pl.'s Opp'n at 2. Prudential retained Carco to complete its background-verification process, and on September 3, 2002, Carco provided Prudential with an investigative consumer report. Compl. ¶¶ 13-14; Def.'s Mot. at 4 (describing Carco's report as a "background verification report").

Carco's report contained a section on criminal history, and Carco entered the word "pending" in the box correlating to the status of the plaintiff's supposed criminal history in Oklahoma. Compl. ¶ 14. On the same day that Prudential received Carco's report, Prudential sent the plaintiff a copy of the report and a letter denying the plaintiff's application for employment. Id. ¶ 9. Prudential cited an incomplete, unsatisfactory, and untimely background verification as the reason for its denial of the plaintiff's employment. Id. ¶¶ 9-11, 16.

The plaintiff subsequently contacted Oklahoma authorities, who informed the plaintiff that there were no criminal charges pending against him. Id. ¶ 19. The plaintiff also ordered a background check from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Id. He learned that although there are persons named "Derek Wilson" and "Derrick Wilson" against whom charges are pending, neither shares the plaintiff's social security number or date of birth. Id. ¶ 20.

On September 5, 2002, the plaintiff informed Carco that his personal history was clear of criminal charges and asked Carco to send an amended report to Prudential. Id. ¶ 21. On September 6, 2002, Carco sent Prudential an amended report indicating that the plaintiff had no criminal charges "pending" against him. Id. ¶ 22. On September 25, 2002, Prudential sent the plaintiff a third letter stating that Prudential was aware that the plaintiff's background was clear and that Prudential would contact ...


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