Compliance Bulletin

CBA to File Amicus Brief in a Case That Could Substantially Reduce Frivolous Litigation
June 15, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court accepted for review a case addressing the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that will affect whether companies can be sued by plaintiffs who are unable to show that they suffered actual harm. In Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, an operator of a “people search engine” (Spokeo) was sued by an individual who believed that erroneous information listed about him harmed his employment opportunities. His suit was dismissed by the district (trial) court because he did not allege any actual or imminent harm, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. Article III of the U.S. Constitution vests courts with authority to adjudicate cases or controversies, which has been interpreted to mean a plaintiff must establish an injury for which he or she seeks address in order to bring a suit in federal court. The question addressed by the Ninth Circuit was whether plaintiff had satisfied this “standing” requirement simply by alleging that Spokeo violated his rights under the FCRA, even if he cannot show injury. This is an issue of great import because, without the need to satisfy standing, companies are exposed to massive damage awards any time a plaintiff (more likely a class action plaintiffs’ attorney) can establish any technical violation of a law even if no one has been harmed. CBA, together with a coalition of partners in the financial institutions industry, will file an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Spokeo. See CBA’s Regulatory Compliance Bulletin for more information.