After much anticipation, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Spokeo v. Robins, a case that many believed would finally establish a definitive ruling as to whether a federal statute which awards statutory damages to those impacted is sufficient to confer Article III standing. The question is particularly relevant in the class action context where class members could be awarded statutory damages in the absence of any actual damages. Unfortunately, although the Court considered the scope of the injury-in-fact requirement, the 6-2 decision still leaves the standing question open to interpretation by courts and by both plaintiffs and defendants.
In Spokeo, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant, which compiles individual’s information in a search engine, violated his rights under the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) by failing to accurately report his information. The District Court dismissed for lack of standing, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, noting first, that the plaintiff had alleged that “Spokeo violated his statutory rights, not just the statutory rights of other people,” and, second, that the plaintiff’s “personal interests in the handling of his credit information are individualized rather than collective.”