Edited September 10, 2017
A Fair Credit Reporting Act Case
BACKGROUND: Spokeo, Inc. is an online “people search engine” that obtains private information from various sources, including public records, and then compiles this information into its databases, and sells same information in its final form to its customers.
Robins was an unemployed resident of Virginia. He discovered inaccurate information about himself on Spokeo’s website Robins alleged that this information caused harm to his employment prospects, which in turn caused him increased anxiety and stress. He filed a class action suit alleging Spokeo violated of the Fair Credit Reporting Act [FCRA] including that Spokeo failed to “follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of” the consumer reports by not notifying its providers and its users of their responsibilities under the FCRA; and not posting a toll-free number for consumers to request reports.
However, in his suit, Robins failed to make a "standing" that the report caused him any harm or damages from potential employers actually using the alleged report against him.
Robins filed suit in a Virginia Federal District Court. The District Court dismissed Robins’ complaint for lack of standing. Robins appealed the District Court's opinion and the Ninth Circuit Court reversed. Spokeo filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.
(1) Whether an individual(s) can file suit against a corporation alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act; and
(2) Whether Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution allows Congress to create "standing" in a class action suit when no alleged concrete harm or injuries exist?
Spokeo performed a search for information on Robins, and disseminated that information on its website. Some of the information Spokeo obtained was incorrect. Robins learned of these inaccuracies. He filed a complaint against Spokeo on his own behalf, as well as a class-action suit on behalf of individuals who experienced the same violations of privacy created by Spokeo .
1. "To establish injury in fact, a plaintiff must show that he or she suffered “an invasion of a legally protected interest” that is “concrete and particularized” and “actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.” Lujan, 504 U. S., at 560 (internal quotation marks omitted).
2. "The Constitution confers limited authority on each branch of the Federal Government. It vests Congress with enumerated “legislative Powers,” Art. I, §1; it confers upon the President “[t]he executive Power,” Art. II, §1, cl. 1; and it endows the federal courts with “[t]he judicial Power of the United States,” Art. III, §1. In order to remain faithful to this tripartite structure, the power of the Federal Judiciary may not be permitted to intrude upon the powers given to the other branches. See DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U. S. 332, 341 (2006); Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S. 555, 559–560 (1992)."
1. The Ninth Circuit observations that Robins allegations that Spokeo not only violated his statutory rights, but the rights of others and that his personal interests in the handling of his credit information are not collective, but individualized in nature had adequately met the requirements for standing under Article III of the Constitution, were incomplete. The Ninth Circuit's analysis focused only on the "particularity" (second characteristic) and failed to include the "concreteness" (first characteristic) of the injury-in-fact requirement.
2. While the "Constitution does not fully explain what is meant by “[t]he judicial Power of the United States,” Art. III, § 1, it does specify that this power extends only to “Cases” and “Controversies,” Art. III, §2. And “ ‘[n]o principle is more fundamental to the judiciary’s proper role in our system of government than the constitutional limitation of federal-court jurisdiction to actual cases or controversies.’ ” Raines v. Byrd, 521 U. S. 811, 818 (1997)."
Vacated and Remanded.
Click here to review the Supreme's Court decision.
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"i diligunt legem" is the Latin phrase for "I Love the Law." This blog is created out of my love for the law and my desire to give back to my community.