Federal judge denies Centralia inmate's motions in Fair Credit Reporting Act lawsuit

By Karen Kidd | Feb 9, 2018

CENTRALIA – A federal judge has denied two separate motions filed by a Centralia Correctional Center inmate suing a consumer reporting agency that the inmate says has threatened him, according to separate memorandums and orders issued in the case.

U.S. District Court for Illinois' Southern District Judge Phil Gilbert denied inmate Kemo D. Whirl's separate motions for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against TransUnion, according to the orders issued Jan. 22 and 25, respectively. 

"TransUnion is not engaging in defamation against Whirl because TransUnion did not publish any statements to a third party," Gilbert said in his order denying the temporary restraining order. "Rather, TransUnion sent a private letter to Whirl in the course of this litigation discussing the case and offering what TransUnion believes to be a compromise. While the court sympathizes with Whirl's lack of training in law and his uncertainty as to whether he should proceed with his case, that is one of the dangers of proceeding as a pro se litigant. The court cannot grant a temporary restraining order against TransUnion simply because they sent an adversarial letter to a pro se litigant."

Whirl, 44, is a prisoner at Centralia Correctional Center where he has been incarcerated since June 2014 on burglary and disorderly conduct charges. Whirl has been in and out of custody since 1994 on charges ranging from theft to narcotics, according to his Centralia inmate profile.

Centralia Correctional Center inmate Kemo D. Whirl  

Whirl is suing the consumer reporting agency TransUnion for allegedly violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act by failing to provide him with a free copy of his annual credit report. Whirl filed separate motions for a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order to stop TransUnion from "threatening and committing libel and slander" against him, according to the separate memorandums and orders issued earlier this month by Gilbert.

An earlier motion by Whirl for a temporary restraining order in the case has already been denied by the court.

In a supporting affidavit, Whirl claims he received a letter from a TransUnion attorney that contained "numerous not-so-veiled threats to dismiss his legal action," according to both memorandum and orders. "Whirl believes that he 'should not have to bear the annoyance, oppression and burden of the defendant’s threats' and that he is 'afraid as to whether he should continue on with his litigation or not'," both memorandum and orders said.

"Whirl believes that TransUnion is taking advantage of him because he is proceeding pro se."

In the "threatening" letter Whirl received from TransUnion, attached of which Whirl provided the court, a TransUnion alerted Whirl of consumer reporting agency's intent to move for sanctions against the inmate if he refuses to withdraw his complaint, according to both memorandum and orders.

"Specifically, TransUnion asserts that Whirl has fraudulently altered and/or manufactured documents which he attached to his complaint in this case," both memorandum and orders said. "The letter also explains why TransUnion believes that Whirl’s case will fail on the merits."

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Centralia Correctional Center Transunion U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

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