Can Congress create a statutory right to standing for a Plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm?
On November 3, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the closely watched class action, Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, a case dealing with a statutory cause of action created by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). At issue: whether Congress can create a statutory right to standing for a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm?
Spokeo is a website that allows users to search for an individual’s personal information. In Spokeo, Plaintiff Robins alleges that Spokeo willfully violated the FCRA by publishing a consumer report that falsely claimed he had a graduate degree and was married with children. According to Plaintiff, the false report injured his job prospects. Spokeo moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the alleged injury was not enough to meet Article III’s requirement that a party seeking relief must have suffered an injury-in-fact. The District Court had dismissed the case, finding that Robins lacked standing because he failed to allege an injury in fact. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Robins and reversed the District Court’s decision, holding that Robins had Article III standing because the mere violation of a statutory right was enough to satisfy Article III.