The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a district court’s decision holding that the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) preempted the plaintiff’s state law defamation claim based on information furnished to a consumer reporting agency (CRA).

In McKenna v. Dillon Transportation, LLC, a truck driver sued his former employer for defamation based on a report the former employer submitted to a CRA. The plaintiff claimed that the report, which stated he had an unsatisfactory safety record and had been involved in an accident, was defamatory and resulted in his inability to secure later employment. Notably, it was established that no potential employer ever requested a copy of the consumer report.

The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, finding that the FCRA preempted the defamation claim. The court also denied the plaintiff’s request for additional discovery. The plaintiff appealed, but the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision in a published opinion issued on April 2, 2024.

The appellate court found that the FCRA, which prohibits the furnishing of inaccurate information to CRAs, preempted the defamation claim. Specifically, FCRA prohibits states from imposing requirements or prohibitions with respect to any subject matter regulated by the FCRA. The court also found that a Department of Transportation regulation, which the plaintiff argued permitted his defamation claim, did not apply in this case.

The court further held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the plaintiff additional discovery before summary judgment. The plaintiff had sought documents that the defendant sent to its insurance carrier about his accident, but the court found that this request was irrelevant to his defamation claim.