Court Revisits and Dismisses Fair Credit Reporting Act Lawsuit Against Spokeo — Robins v. Spokeo, Inc.

[Post by Venkat Balasubramani]

Robins v. Spokeo, Inc., 10-CV-05306 (C.D. Cal.; Sept. 19, 2011)

Spokeo collects information about individuals and allegedly markets this information to employers and HR professionals. Robins sued Spokeo in a putative class action, alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The court initially dismissed the lawsuit for lack of standing, due to Robins’s failure to allege actual harm. (“Court Dismisses Class Action Against Spokeo for Lack of Standing.”) Robins filed an amended complaint and the court found that Robins adequately alleged injury and standing. (“Court Allows Fair Credit Reporting Act Claims Against Spokeo to Move Forward.”)

The court revisits the ruling and finds that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege harm:

the Court reinstates the January 27, 2011 Order, which found that Plaintiff fails to establish standing. Among other things, the alleged harm to Plaintiff’s employment prospects is speculative, attenuated and implausible. Mere violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act does not confer Article III standing, moreover, where no injury in fact is properly pled. Otherwise, federal courts will be inundated by web surfers’ endless complaints. Plaintiff also fails to allege facts sufficient to trace his alleged harm to Spokeo’s alleged violations. In short, Plaintiff fails to establish his standing before this Court. This action is therefore DISMISSED.

Is it sufficient for a plaintiff to plead a violation of a statute or does the plaintiff have to allege harm for Article III purposes separately? Does a statutory violation automatically confer Article III standing? I’m guessing Robins will appeal this ruling and we will get to see what the Ninth Circuit says about the standing issue. [For what it’s worth, I predict a reversal.]

Previous posts:

Court Dismisses Class Action Against Spokeo for Lack of Standing.

Court Allows Fair Credit Reporting Act Claims Against Spokeo to Move Forward