On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, finding that consumers must show “concrete and particularized” injury in order to gain standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution to sue for damages under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).
In the proposed class action, Thomas Robins alleged that Spokeo, Inc., a website that aggregates public information on individuals, published inaccurate information about him. Robins alleged that Spokeo acted as a consumer reporting agency and violated the FCRA by failing to provide him with mandated notices.
Spokeo filed a motion to dismiss based on standing, which a district court initially denied and then reconsidered and granted. The court found that Robins had failed to plead an injury-in-fact. Robins appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which reversed the district court’s decision, finding that Spokeo’s alleged violation of Robins’ statutory rights under the FCRA was injury enough to qualify under Article III.
The Ninth Circuit said that because the FCRA does not require proof of actual damages to proceed with a violation claim, a plaintiff’s statutory rights under the FCRA could be violated without proof that actual damages were suffered. The Ninth Circuit ruling joined the Sixth, Tenth and D.C. Circuits, which split with the Second and Fourth Circuits.
In its 6-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court found that “Robins cannot satisfy the demands of Article III by alleging a bare procedural violation,” reaffirming that an injury in fact to confer standing under Article III must be “both concrete and particularized.”
The Court vacated and remanded for further proceedings, stating that, “Because the Ninth Circuit failed to fully appreciate the distinction between concreteness and particularization, its standing analysis was incomplete.”
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