A federal judge in the Southern District of New York halted another Fair Credit Reporting Act class action case in light of the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling in Spokeo v. Robins.  In Ernst v. DISH Network, U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield stayed a class action case brought by Dish Network LLC contract technicians alleging that Dish Network failed to provide a proper FCRA disclosure prior to obtaining consumer reports on the class members.

Judge Schofield stayed the litigation and denied the technicians’ class certification motion without prejudice, reasoning that the Spokeo decision will “likely clarify whether or not the named Plaintiffs and potential class members in this case have Article III standing.”  Specifically, Judge Schofield noted that “[w]hile it is possible that the Supreme Court will decide Spokeo in a way that supports Plaintiff’s position or does not impact this case, the question the Supreme Court granted certiorari for and heard argument on is broad enough to suggest that the decision will shed light on the contours of Article III standing in the FCRA context.”

In addition, Judge Schofield reasoned that potential guidance from the Supreme Court would “impact the Court’s ruling on class certification and how this case should be managed moving forward.  Proceeding in the absence of such guidance would risk rulings in the present case that are inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s eventual ruling in Spokeo, requiring vacating or amending them after the fact.”

Ernst originally filed suit in December 2012, alleging that Dish did not provide class members with an appropriate consent and disclosure form under the FCRA.  Satellite television contractors who were part of the Dish Network Contractor Program were required to use a specific background check company to conduct background checks on the individual technicians.  The disclosure forms provided to the technicians identified the contractor as the company obtaining the reports and did not disclose that Dish would also be receiving the information provided by the background check company.

In its opposition to class certification, Dish argued that several of the proposed class members’ complaints are only that the disclosure forms contained extra information; the complaints are not necessarily about any adverse action against them.  According to Dish, these class members were not “wrongfully deprived” of information, and the only information that was omitted from the authorization forms was Dish’s identity.  In addition, Dish argued that it did not intentionally disregard the FCRA’s requirements, and that even if it did, the violation was not willful.

Judge Schofield ordered the parties to file a joint letter motion summarizing the Spokeo decision and its impact on this case within 14 days of the Court’s ruling.

A copy of the order granting the stay is available here.