Robins v. Spokeo, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Standing
  • Date Filed: 02-04-2014
  • Case #: 11-56843
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge O’Scannlain for the Court; Circuit Judges Bea and Graber
  • Full Text Opinion

Inaccurate consumer reporting information is sufficient injury in fact to establish Article III standing under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Thomas Robins sued Spokeo, Inc. (“Spokeo”), a website that provides personal information about other individuals, for willful violations of the Fair Credit Report Act (“FCRA”). After the district court ruled that Robins had failed to allege “any actual or imminent harm,” Robins filed a First Amendment Complaint. This time, the district court concluded that the misinformation on Spokeo’s website was sufficient alleged injury in fact. Spokeo moved to reconsider the previous ruling for standing, and the court dismissed the action. Robins timely appealed. The Ninth Circuit first stated that even though more can be required later on in litigation, general allegations of injury may be sufficient at this level. The panel held that when the statutory cause of action does not require showing actual damages, there can be a violation of statutory rights without suffering actual damages. The panel also held that even though the constitution limits Congress’s power to confer standing, it does not prohibit elevating the status of concrete, de facto injuries previously inadequate in law. The panel concluded that the statutory violations against Robins were concrete, de facto violations because he is “among the injured” since his own statutory rights were violated, and the statutory rights by the FCRA provide for protection against individual harm. REVERSED and REMANDED. 

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