A Pennsylvania district court recently dismissed a complaint due to the plaintiff’s lack of standing to assert violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  In Harmon v. RapidCourt, LLC, Case No. 17-5699 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 20, 2018), consumer plaintiff Icarus Harmon asserted violations based on a stale criminal history that RapidCourt had provided to a consumer reporting agency.   

As part of the job application process, Harmon’s prospective employer sought the job applicant’s consumer report, using a consumer reporting agency to obtain it.  The consumer reporting agency in turn contracted with RapidCourt to obtain Harmon’s criminal history.  RapidCourt provided information on criminal charges more than seven years old and which did not result in criminal convictions.  The consumer reporting agency, however, did not include this information in Harmon’s consumer report provided to the prospective employer.  Harmon did not allege that he was denied employment as a result of the information provided; rather, he alleged that he suffered embarrassment, frustration, fear of future reports to other employers that contained this criminal information, and time spent to clear his consumer report file.  These injuries stemmed from RapidCourt’s purported unlawful disclosure of criminal history information to the consumer reporting agency, not to the prospective employer. 

Relying on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, the Court found that these allegations were insufficient to confer standing “because the disclosure of information to another consumer reporting agency, without more, does not constitute a concrete harm.”  The Court assumed, without finding, that RapidCourt itself was a consumer reporting agency, but was “unwilling to find that the transmission of allegedly prohibited information from one consumer reporting agency to another is a concrete injury that is ‘real and not abstract.’”    

The Court further noted that Harmon, in alleging injuries, was “merely winging it in an attempt to manufacture an injury in fact.”  While the FCRA recognizes the alleged injuries, when these injuries arise from the disclosure of information from one consumer reporting agency to another, they are insufficient to confer Article III standing.  The Court found that to hold otherwise would “neither advance the FCRA’s purpose nor comport with well-reasoned case law.” 

Troutman Sanders will continue to monitor and report on developments in FCRA jurisprudence.