Robins v. Spokeo, Inc.

Plaintiff who sued under the Fair Credit Reporting Act alleged a sufficiently concrete injury to ensure his Article III standing in case against information aggregation service who posted incorrect information about his age, marital status, wealth, education level, and profession.  On remand from the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit holds that Robins has alleged a sufficiently concrete injury to have Article III standing to sue Spokeo for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s requirement that credit reporting agencies follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of consumer reports.  While not every statutory violation for which a statutory remedy is granted suffices to show concrete injury, even a violation of a statutory procedural requirement can show concrete injury if Congress required the procedure and granted the right to sue of its violation in order to protect a plaintiff’s concrete interests and where the procedural violation presents a real risk of harm to those interests.  Here, the requirement of reasonable procedures to assure maximum accuracy of consumer reports protects a consumer’s concrete interest against reputational harm from real risks.  The common law recognized and protected similar reputational and privacy interests.  And while some inaccuracies in consumer reports may not realistically threaten harm, here, Spokeo’s report on Robins was inaccurate as to many important facts:  his age, marital status, wealth, education level, and profession, as well as attaching a photo of a different person.  So there was a real risk of harm to Robins’ reputational interest.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (O’Scannlain, J.); August 15, 2017; 2017 WL 3480695

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