Statement on Spokeo vs. Robins 9th Circuit Decision

Spokeo responds to Ninth Circ. Decision on Spokeo vs. Robins

The United States Supreme Court in Spokeo v. Robins affirmed the fundamental principle that a bare allegation of a statutory violation, without any allegation of concrete and particularized injury, is not sufficient for standing in federal court.  Since then, many federal appellate courts have applied the holding in Spokeo to dismiss the kinds of no-injury class actions that many companies face and that can stifle innovation, and Spokeo is proud to have been a leader in this important discussion.

The Ninth Circuit, in its decision on remand from the Supreme Court, agreed that alleging a statutory violation is not sufficient to establish standing. Spokeo is disappointed that the Ninth Circuit concluded that the alleged inaccuracies about Mr. Robins satisfied the Supreme Court’s actual harm standard.

But the Ninth Circuit also held that every inaccuracy is not sufficient to establish standing, and that there must be “examination of the nature of the specific alleged reporting inaccuracies to ensure that they raise a real risk of harm.” Because every claimant will have to meet this standard, individualized inquiries will be necessary—which will make it very difficult for the plaintiffs to meet the requirements for certifying a class action.

Finally,  the Ninth Circuit made clear this was not a ruling on the merits of the case.  The case will now return to the district court, where Spokeo will not only vigorously defend the merits  (including that its services do not violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act), but also seek to confirm Justice Kagan’s observation during the oral argument that “the class, as [Plaintiff] defined it, is not going to be certified.”