Supreme Court limits standing in Spokeo (May 16, 2016)
The Supreme Court held that a plaintiff must demonstrate specific and articulate harm to have standing or the right to sue in court. The Supreme Court overturned an appellate decision that allowed plaintiff to pursue a claim against Spokeo based on the theory that Spokeo had violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act because Spokeo prepared inaccurate online profiles.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit reporting agencies to ensure maximum possible accuracy based on reasonable procedures. A litigant asserted that Spokeo overstated his educational accomplishments, his work history, and his income. The litigant stated that this incorrect profile detracted from his ability to attain employment because employers’ viewed his Spokeo profile and determined that he would be overqualified for certain positions.
The Supreme Court held that a plaintiff must demonstrate that the alleged harm is particular to him. The court must perform a rigorous analysis to ascertain whether the injury is concrete in nature. The court held that the Fair Credit Reporting Act creates a series of regulatory duties. However, plaintiff has no standing to sue Spokeo for violations of duties that Spokeo owns to the public collectively unless he shows that he has suffered “concrete and particular harm.”
This decision is favorable to class action opponents such as large organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that supports business interests.