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Legislation Alerts

02/11/2014 - NCISS - Legislative Alert Actual Harm Not Required for Standing in FCRA Suit

Legislative Alert
February 11, 2013

Actual Harm Not Required for Standing in FCRA Suit

United States Court of Appeals,Ninth Circuit.

Thomas ROBINS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SPOKEO, INC., a California corporation, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 11-56843.

Argued and Submitted Nov. 6, 2013. -- February 04, 2014

Last week, the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, ruled that a man who filed a lawsuit against Spokeo, a data aggregation web site, does not have to prove that he actually suffered specific economic harm  under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The plaintiff, Thomas Robins had claimed "anxiety, stress, concern, and or worry about his diminished employment prospects" due to Spokeo's inaccuracies concerning his overstatement of his education and wealth.

In response to Spokeo's argument that the plaintiff cannot sue based on violations of the FCRA without showing actual harm, Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain (joined by Judges Susan Graber and Carlos Bea) opined, "...the statuatory cause of action does not require a showing of actual harm when a plaintiff sues for willful violations." The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the judge in lower court that found the plaintiff did not have a legal standing to file a suit based on the FCRA. Attorneys for Spokeo said similar lawsuits against other websites could result from the 9th Circuit ruling.

Allison Grande writing for LexisNexis Law 360 states, "The Ninth Circuit held Tuesday that plaintiffs do not need to allege actual injury to maintain class action claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a decision that attorneys expect will ignite a host of new suits because it offers consumers a simple way to sidestep typically ruinous harm hurdles." For Grande's full article

For full 9th Circuit decision:
Francie KoehlerFrancie Koehler



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