Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins: Supreme Court Holds Class-Action Plaintiff Must Suffer Concrete Harm to Sue in Federal Court

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On May 16, the United States Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, a class action brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The Court had granted certiorari to decide whether “Congress may confer Article III standing upon a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm, and who therefore could not otherwise invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court, by authorizing a private right of action based on a bare violation of a federal statute.” In a 6-2 decision, the Court answered “no” to that question, holding that a federal-court plaintiff must establish a “concrete” injury to satisfy Article III’s standing requirement. The Court reasoned that, although Congress has an important role to play in identifying legally cognizable injuries, a bare violation of a statutory right— without more—cannot serve as a substitute for the concrete injury required by Article III.

Background -

Spokeo, Inc. operates a “people search engine.” If a person visits Spokeo’s website and provides an individual’s name, Spokeo searches for information “in a wide variety of databases and provides information about the subject of the search.”

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