Ball v. Landmark Credit Union

Decision Date21 December 2022
Docket Number22-CV-69
PartiesCHRISTOPHER BALL, Plaintiff, v. LANDMARK CREDIT UNION, Defendant
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Wisconsin

CHRISTOPHER BALL, Plaintiff,
v.

LANDMARK CREDIT UNION, Defendant

No. 22-CV-69

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

December 21, 2022


DECISION AND ORDER

WILLIAM E. DUFFIN U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

1. Facts and Procedural History

Christopher Ball entered the Glendale, Wisconsin, branch of Landmark Credit Union on December 21, 2021, seeking a $30,000 line of credit. (ECF No. 46, ¶ 1.) A Landmark loan officer, Antwon Bond, gave Ball Landmark's standard loan application. (ECF No. 46, ¶ 2.) Ball provided his name, date of birth, social security number, and some other basic information on the form (ECF No. 46, ¶ 3), but he left much of the application, including information about his income, employment, expenses and debts, blank (ECF No. 46, ¶ 4). Before Landmark can assess an applicant's creditworthiness and approve a loan, it must have the information that Ball omitted. (ECF No. 46, ¶¶ 8-9, 15.)

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The loan application Ball received from Landmark is a one-page standard form and does not contain disclosures of interest rates or loan terms. (ECF No. 46, ¶ 6.) Landmark's standard practice is to provide the disclosures required by the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) after the loan is approved and details like interest rate can be calculated. (ECF No. 46, ¶ 7.)

Landmark did not extend a loan or line of credit to Ball. (ECF No. 46, ¶ 16.) Consequently, it never charged him any fee or interest in relation to any loan or line of credit. (ECF No. 46, ¶ 17.)

Less than 30 days later, Ball filed suit against Landmark. (ECF Nos. 1; 46, ¶ 27.) He alleged that Landmark violated 15 U.S.C. §§ 1605, 1606, 1631(a) and (b), 1635, 1637(a)(1) - (5), (7), and 1691. Ball demands a $30,000 personal line of credit and $125,000 in “fines.” (ECF No. 1 at 5.)

On October 25, 2022, Landmark filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 44.) Ball's response to Landmark's motion was due no later than November 28, 2022 (30 days after Landmark filed its motion, Civ. L.R. 56(b)(2), plus three days for service by mail, Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(d), plus one day because the last day was a Sunday, Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(a)(1)(C)). Although Landmark complied with Civil Local Rule 56(a)(1)(B) and provided Ball with copies of the relevant Federal Rule of Civil Procedure and Civil Local Rules (ECF No. 44), Ball failed to respond to Landmark's motion. Therefore, all of Landmark's proposed findings of fact are deemed admitted, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2);

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Civ. L.R. 56(b)(4), and the court will grant the motion for summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials show that it is entitled to it, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3).

The court previously denied Ball's motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 37.) Ball v. Landmark Credit Union, No. 22-CV-69, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192966 (E.D. Wis. Oct. 24, 2022).

2. Summary Judgment Standard

“The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” only if it “might affect the outcome of the suit” and a dispute is “genuine” only if a reasonable factfinder could return a verdict for the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In resolving a motion for summary judgment, the court is to “construe all evidence and draw all reasonable inferences from the evidence in” favor of the nonmovant. E.Y. v. United States, 758 F.3d 861, 863 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Gil v. Reed, 535 F.3d 551, 556 (7th Cir. 2008); Del Raso v. United States, 244 F.3d 567, 570 (7th Cir. 2001)). “The controlling question is whether a reasonable trier of fact could find in favor of the nonmoving party on the evidence submitted in support of and [in] opposition to the motion for summary judgment.” White v. City of Chicago, 829 F.3d 837, 841 (7th Cir. 2016).

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3. Analysis

As discussed in this court's decision denying Ball's motion for summary judgment, Ball's pursuit of a line of credit with Landmark rests on frivolous notions regarding the nature of credit and the meaning of various federal laws. Ball, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192966, at *9-*12. He asserts that credit is a “right” guaranteed by the Ninth Amendment (ECF No. 47-1 at 9, 31:14-16), and he says that his social security card (as well as his driver's license and license plate) is a credit card (ECF No. 47-1 at 11, 37:1-4) guaranteed by the federal government. He contends that he can present his social security card to a financial institution like Landmark and that institution must then grant him an unlimited line of credit, which he insists is not a loan but his own “money from the Federal Reserve.” (ECF No. 47-1 at 6, 19:18-20-12.) All of these assertions are wholly without merit. Ball, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192966, at *9-*12.

Notwithstanding the frivolous arguments that underlie this suit, it is plausible that Landmark's actions in processing Ball's loan application violated federal law. Therefore, the court now turns to whether a reasonable trier of fact could find for Ball on any of his claims.

3.1. 15 U.S.C. § 1637(a)

Ball alleges that Landmark violated 15 U.S.C. § 1637(a)(1)-(5) and (7), which require creditors to disclose certain information “to the person to whom credit is to be extended.” Section 1637(a) requires that the creditor make the disclosures “[b]efore

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opening any account under an open end consumer credit plan.” 15 U.S.C. § 1637(a). A consumer credit plan is opened when the first transaction occurs under the plan. Muro v. Target Corp., 580 F.3d 485, 493 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting 12 C.F.R. § 226.5(b)(1)). Because Landmark did not approve Ball's application and did not extend him credit, an open end consumer credit plan was never opened. Consequently, Landmark did not violate 15 U.S.C. § 1637(a). Landmark is entitled to summary judgment with respect to Ball's claims under 15 U.S.C. § 1637(a).

3.2. 15 U.S.C. §§ 1605 and 1606

15 U.S.C. § 1605 defines “finance charge” and sets forth how it is to be calculated. Similarly, 15 U.S.C. § 1606 defines “annual percentage rate” and sets forth how it is to be calculated. Neither statute, by itself, provides a cause of action. Rather, any cause action regarding an alleged failure to properly disclose a finance charge or annual percentage rate would lie under the specific provision of the TILA requiring such disclosure. The provisions applicable in this action would be 15 U.S.C. § 1637(a)(1)-(4). But, as noted, Ball has no claim under 15 U.S.C. § 1637(a) because an open end consumer credit plan was never opened. Therefore, Landmark is entitled to summary judgment as to Ball's purported claims under 15 U.S.C. §§ 1605 and 1606.

3.3. 15 U.S.C. § 1631(a) and (b)

Ball alleges that Landmark violated 15 U.S.C. § 1631(a) and (b). (ECF No. 1 at 3.) This statute sets forth to whom “the information required under this subchapter,” i.e., 15 U.S.C. §§ 1601-1667f,

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must be disclosed. For the same reasons that Ball's claims under 15 U.S.C. §§ 1605 and 1606 fail, so too does his claim under 15 U.S.C. § 1631(a) and (b). Because Landmark never approved Ball's application and therefore never opened a credit plan, Landmark did not violate the TILA by failing to make any disclosure. Because Landmark was not required to make any disclosure, it could not have violated 15 U.S.C. § 1631(a) or (b). Therefore, Landmark is entitled to summary judgment on Ball's purported claim under 15 U.S.C. § 1631(a) and (b).

3.4. 15 U.S.C. § 1635

An obligor has a three-day right to rescind any transaction “in which a security interest ... is or will be retained or acquired in any property which is used as the principal dwelling of the person to whom credit is extended ..." 15 U.S.C. § 1635(a). Whenever this right applies, the creditor must clearly disclose the right of rescission to the obligor. 15 U.S.C. § 1635(a).

Ball sought and expected a line of credit secured by his “credit card," which he contends was his social security card. (ECF No. 47-1 at 11, 39:8-9.) He did not own a home that could be used as collateral for a line of credit. (ECF No. 47-1 at 21, 79:4-80-17.) Because the transaction did not involve a security interest in Ball's principal dwelling, 15 U.S.C. § 1635 was inapplicable.

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Beyond that, because Landmark never extended credit to Ball, there was no transaction to rescind. Consequently, Landmark is entitled to summary judgment on Ball's claim that Landmark violated 15 U.S.C. § 1635.

3.5. Discrimination under 15 U.S.C. § 1691

Ball alleges that Landmark violated 15 U.S.C. § 1691 of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibits creditors from discriminating against a credit applicant on the basis of “race, color, religion, national origin, sex or marital status, or age (provided the applicant has the capacity to contract),” 15 U.S.C. § 1691(a)(1), “because all or part of the applicant's income derives from any public assistance program,” 15 U.S.C. § 1691(a)(2), or “because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under this chapter,” 15 U.S.C. § 1691(a)(3). 15 U.S.C. § 1691e(a) allows an “aggrieved applicant” to recover damages sustained as a result of a creditor's violation of Title 15, United States Code, Chapter 41, Subchapter IV, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1691-1691f. Ball seeks punitive damages pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1691e(b). (ECF No. 1 at 5.)

Ball's complaint does not describe how Landmark allegedly discriminated against him. In his deposition, Ball explained that he was alleging that Landmark violated 15 U.S.C. § 1691 by discriminating against him for exercising his “right to credit.” (ECF No. 47-1 at 18, 66:4-9.) In other words, as the court understands Ball's allegations, he contends that simply because Landmark did not give him the line of credit he requested, it discriminated against him and thus violated 15 U.S.C. § 1691.

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As this court previously stated, neither the Ninth...

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