Last week, a district court in the Northern District of California denied TransUnion LLC’s motion to decertify a Fair Credit Reporting Act class action that was certified prior to the Supreme Court’s 2016 Spokeo ruling.  The class action case accused TransUnion of including inaccurate information on its consumer reports as well as failing to comply with the FCRA’s file disclosure obligations in response to consumers’ requests.   

In May of 2015, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeker certified two classes in connection with TransUnion Rental Screening, Inc.’s “SmartMove” reports.  According to the Complaint, the SmartMove reports contained terrorist alerts, and the alert information was not included in response to consumers’ file disclosure requests.  The first class – the disclosure class – was certified under 15 U.S.C. § 1681g, and consisted of all consumers who were the subject of TransUnion SmartMove reports that contained “at least one item of ‘AlertList’ information who requested a file disclosure and were sent a disclosure by TransUnion.”  The second class was certified under 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b) and also consisted of consumers who were the subject of TransUnion SmartMove reports that contained at least one item of “Alert List” information.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling in Spokeo v. Robins, TransUnion moved to decertify the class.  TransUnion argued that the class claims failed to sufficiently allege a concrete injury to give the named plaintiff standing.  The Court rejected TransUnion’s Spokeo-related arguments noting that the Court saw “little difficulty in concluding that the alleged inaccuracies – being wrongly branded a potential terrorist, or wrongly ascribed a criminal record” were themselves concrete harms.  Comparing the facts of this case to other recent Spokeo-based decisions, the Court found that “a report that misidentifies someone as a terrorist or criminal ‘is not as benign as an incorrect zip code.’” 

The Court also rejected TransUnion’s arguments regarding the limited dissemination of the information, finding that the “core harm is the sharing of erroneous and inherently damning information about the plaintiff – regardless of how widely it is broadcast.”   

With respect to the disclosure claim, the Court found that the failure to provide the necessary information in connection with class members’ file disclosure requests impeded a consumer’s ability to “monitor her file for falsity.”  Thus, the Court found the impediment of non-disclosure to be a real injury and that “preventing a consumer from monitoring her file presents a ‘risk of real harm.’” 

A copy of the opinion is available here.