Just under three months after Michael Peikoff first went after the Viacom-owned studio in federal court for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the case is over. Judge Vince Chhabria ruled last week that while Paramount Pictures may have not been totally upfront in its intention to run credit report checks on potential employment seekers like Peikoff, it didn’t disregard federal law requirements. “Accordingly, the motion to dismiss is granted,” the U.S. District judge wrote on March 25 (read it here). “And because any amendment would be futile, the dismissal is with prejudice.”
Filed by Peikoff in early January, the class action-seeking compliant alleged that “Defendant Paramount had in fact procured and/or caused to be procured a ‘consumer report’ regarding him for employment purposes based on the illegal disclosure and authorization form” when the plaintiff had applied for a gig there in February 2011. Technically, that disclosure about a potential employer seeking a credit report needed to be its own release form and not in the application form itself, said the lawsuit, and hence the potential FRCA violation.
Peikoff said in the filing seeking a jury trial that he had only learned about this in the years since seeking the unnamed job at Paramount. Claiming an estimated class membership of more than 500, the complaint was aiming for statutory damages from $100-$1,000 for each FCRA violation as well as punitive damages and legal fees.
Nope said the judge.
“Even if inclusion of the certification in Paramount’s disclosure form did not comply with a strict reading of …requirement that the document consist solely of the disclosure and the authorization, it is not plausible that Paramount acted in reckless disregard of the requirements of the FCRA by using this language,” Chhabria noted in his order last week. “Nor is it plausible that Paramount violated the FCRA by obtaining the credit checks pursuant to the release found elsewhere in its employment application, rather than its FCRA disclosure and authorization form,” he added. “The Clerk of Court is directed to close the case,” Chhabria said in a separate judgment handing the legal win to Paramount (read it here).
While Peikoff’s case is seemingly over unless he tries some sort of appeal, others have proven more successful in the courts with similar FCRA violations. In 2014, Publix supermarket chain paid out more than $6.8 million in a settlement over a similar case.
Richard Kendall and Nicole Phillis of L.A.’s Kendall Brill & Klieger LLP represented Paramount in the matter. Woodland Hills’ Peter Dion-Kindem represented Peikoff in the case along with Lonnie Blanchard of LA’s Blanchard Law Group.