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July 13 — A former over-the-road truck driver with Marten Transport has no claim under federal law that driving-record information the company filed with a consumer reporting agency was mistaken and cost him new jobs, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled ( Maiteki v. Marten Transp. Ltd. , 2016 BL 224635, 10th Cir., No. 15-1429, 7/13/16 ).
Ronald Maiteki failed to show that Marten Transport Ltd. didn't reasonably reinvestigate the driving incidents underlying its report to the consumer reporting agency (CRA) that Maiteki had an unsatisfactory safety record with Marten, the court said.
Additional investigation wouldn't have negated a written warning for speeding that Maiteki received from the Illinois police in July 2011, Judge Harris L. Hartz said for the appeals court. Nor would it have undercut evidence of speeding by Maiteki on other occasions, gathered from speed-monitoring devices installed on Marten trucks, the judge added.
The decision is important because the Tenth Circuit backs the First, Seventh and Ninth circuits in holding that whether an employer conducted a reasonable reinvestigation of a consumer report for purposes of the Fair Credit Reporting Act—the law Miaketi sued under—may be decided without the benefit of a jury trial.
However, the reasonableness of the employer's reinvestigation must be “beyond dispute” for the issue to be decided on summary judgment, Hartz said, citing the Seventh Circuit.
Here, that was the case, the Tenth Circuit found. The court said that “it was not unreasonable for Marten to focus on whether there were incidents of record that supported its report to HireRight,” the CRA that published the “Drive-A-Check” report that allegedly led to Maiteki's being denied work with other companies after his employment with Marten ended in December 2011.
And the “terse” notice of dispute Maiteki sent to HireRight challenging the information Marten had provided did not signal Marten that he was alleging he never got the warnings it claimed he was issued for speeding, the appeals court said.
Marten didn't need to dig deeper into the information by directly contacting the Illinois police or the company that administered its truck-speed-monitoring devices, Hartz said.
He said Marten received its information about the Illinois incident from the federal Department of Transportation, and there was no reason to doubt the information's authenticity. And it was enough that the Marten human resources employee who conducted the reinvestigation contacted the Marten fleet manager who disciplined Maiteki based on the monitoring device's finding that Maiteki had repeatedly exceeded Marten's speeding guidelines, Hartz added.
A reinvestigation under the FRCA doesn't “have to be exhaustive to be reasonable,” the Tenth Circuit said. Rather, an “information' like Marten “may balance the costs and benefits of engaging in additional procedures,” it wrote.
Judges Jerome A. Holmes and Carolyn B. McHugh joined the opinion.
Emejuru & Nyombi LLC represented Maiteki. DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C. represented Marten.
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Text of the opinion is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/RONALD_MUKASA_MAITEKI_Plaintiff__Appellant_v_MARTEN_TRANSPORT_LTD.
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