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Supreme Court Keeps Consumer Class Action Alive but Asks Circuit Court to Develop More Facts

By: Anapol Weiss

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a lawsuit against a people-search website for publishing incorrect information about a Virginia man back for the lower courts to develop more facts about the man’s injury. In a 6-2 decision, the Court remanded the consumer class action to the Ninth Circuit to develop more fully whether there was a “concrete” injury alleged under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

For standing a plaintiff must show “an invasion of a legally protected interest” that is “concrete and particularized” and “actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical” harm. The plaintiff alleged that there were serious errors in his profile on the Spokeo search engine and that the defendant willfully failed to comply to the FCRA’s accuracy requirements. The Ninth Circuit only addressed the Particularized test.

The takeaway is in some instances a mere technical violation of some consumer protection statutes does not in and of itself satisfy the injury in fact requirement for standing. It may depend on the facts in each case. The good news is that the Ninth Circuit could well find under the facts the “concreteness” of the injury. This opinion does not do away with consumer class actions for failure to follow reasonable procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy. At Anapol Weiss, we continue to advocate for consumer rights in a variety of class actions.