On May 1, the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama issued an order requesting that the parties provide supplemental briefing on the issue of standing in a lawsuit alleging Fair Credit Reporting Act violations. As we have previously reported on the blog, the Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in the Spokeo case to address the issue of whether the violation of a statutory right alone can confer Constitutional standing. This recent order from a district court signals that courts are considering issues of standing seriously in the wake of Spokeo.
In Smith v. Triad of Alabama, the plaintiffs sued the defendant for alleged FCRA violations. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, raising the issue of whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring their lawsuit. Specifically, the defendant questioned whether the plaintiffs had suffered an “injury-in-fact” necessary for Constitutional standing. In Spokeo, the issue pending before the Supreme Court is whether the violation of a statute alone, without any accompanying factual injury, is sufficient to confer Constitutional standing.
In the Court’s order, it quoted from the Supreme Court’s 1975 decision in Warth v. Seldin for the proposition that “Congress may create a statutory right or entitlement the alleged deprivation of which can confer standing to sue even where the plaintiff would have suffered no judicially cognizable injury in the absence of statute.” Despite the fact that the plaintiffs alleged a “statutory injury” in Smith, the Court held that the parties did “not clearly address the injury-in-fact requirement in light of Plaintiffs’ pleading of FCRA claims.” The Court also noted that “neither party addresses whether the Plaintiffs’ complaint makes sufficient allegations of an injury-in-fact under the FCRA to confer standing.”
Although the Court’s order does not make any rulings with respect to standing, the order itself demonstrates that courts are paying attention to FCRA standing issues in light of Spokeo. Litigants should watch standing issues closely in pending FCRA cases because the Spokeo decision could dramatically impact courts’ injury-in-fact analysis in those lawsuits.