The Ninth Circuit added another chapter to the storied tale of Article III standing jurisprudence on August 15 when, on remand from the Supreme Court, the appellate court unanimously revived a plaintiff’s Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) suit in Robins v. Spokeo, Inc., __ F.3d __, 2017 WL 3480695 (9th Cir. Aug. 15, 2017).
The single FCRA claim asserted by Thomas Robins is premised upon the Spokeo website, which collects data to build consumer-information profiles. Profiles may allegedly include such details, as the court noted, as a “person’s age, contact information, marital status, occupation, hobbies, economic health, and wealth.” Robins’ website profile allegedly included his inaccurate age, marital status, reported wealth and profession, and even his photo (of a different person).
He sued Spokeo for willful violation of section 1681e(b) of the FCRA, alleging that it had “failed to ‘follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy’ of the information in his credit report.” A willful violation allows for a statutory award, even in the absence of actual damages. See id. 15 U.S.C. § 1681n. Robins alleged that the publication of the inaccurate information hurt his job prospects and caused him to suffer emotional distress. Whether such alleged injuries satisfied the Article III test for standing has been the focus of the litigation, which is now in its seventh year.
On the first appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of the suit, finding that Robins had pleaded a “concrete and particularized” injury, i.e., an injury-in-fact, because he had alleged Spokeo violated his individual statutory rights (Spokeo I). The Supreme Court in May 2016 vacated the Ninth Circuit’s decision (Spokeo II). While the Court agreed Robins’ alleged injury was particularized to him, it held that a mere alleged statutory violation was not enough to establish a concrete injury necessary for Article III standing.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Holds Alleged FCRA Violation Satisfies Article III Standing