Supreme Court to Consider FCRA Lawsuit against People Search Website

 Gavel

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted the ‘Petition for a Writ of Certiorari’ to question whether online people search website Spokeo Inc. should continue to face a class action lawsuit for alleged violations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that requires Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) to provide correct information. The Petition is available at http://www.esrcheck.com/file/Spokeo-v-Robins-Petition.pdf.

Spokeo was petitioning for a review of the judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in this case. The ‘Question Presented’ in the Petition is: Whether Congress may confer Article III standing upon a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm, and who therefore could not otherwise invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court, by authorizing a private right of action based on a bare violation of a federal statute.

As reported by ESR News in February 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Robins could sue Spokeo for inaccurately describing him as wealthy and well educated by alleging a violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) “without showing actual harm.” The judgement of the appeals court is available at http://www.esrcheck.com/file/Robins-v-Spokeo-Appeal.pdf.

Plaintiff Thomas Robins originally filed a class action lawsuit in California against Spokeo – a data broker that compiles and sells detailed information profiles on millions of consumers – for “willful” violations of the FCRA related to false information about him on the company’s website. In January 2011, a district court ruled that Robins had failed to allege an injury in fact because he had not alleged “any actual or imminent harm.”

According to a report from Reuters, the Supreme Court must consider “whether plaintiffs can sue for a technical violation of the federal law even when they cannot show they have been harmed economically by the inclusion of inaccurate information.” The case – Spokeo v. Robins, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-1339 – will be argued and decided in the Supreme Court’s next term from October 2015 to June 2016, Reuters reports.

In June 2012, ESR News reported that Spokeo paid a $800,000 fine to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges the company allegedly marketed information to employers and recruiters without protecting consumers as required by the FCRA. A press release about the first FTC case to address the sale of Internet and social media data for employment screening is at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/06/spokeo.shtm.

More Information about FCRA Lawsuits

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) identified the growth of FCRA lawsuits as one the ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2015. ESR will present a complimentary webinar hosted by ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen titled ‘Common Ways Consumer Reporting Agencies are Sued Under the FCRA’ on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. For more information, click here. To read more about FCRA lawsuits, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/class-action-lawsuits/.

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