The Central District of California has decided to again reverse its decision with regard to Thomas Robins’ privacy lawsuit against Spokeo. As we discussed in August, Robbins filed a suit against Spokeo for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act; specifically, Robbins alleged that Spokeo’s incorrect aggregation and publication of information about Robbins was hurting his job prospects.
Initially, the Court dismissed Robbins’ suit for lack of standing, holding that Robbins failed to state a cognizable injury in fact. Later, Robbins refiled, alleging actual economic injury arising out of Spokeo allegedly hampering his job search — the Court let this stand and Spokeo appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
Now, not waiting for the Ninth Circuit’s decision, the Court has decided to double back, finding, once again, that Robbins lacks standing to bring his case. Specifically:
the alleged harm to Plaintiff’s employment prospects is speculative, attenuated and implausible.
Mere violation of the Fair Credit Report Act does not confer Article III standing, moreover, where no injury in fact is properly pled. Otherwise, federal courts will be inundated by web surfers’ endless complaints.
Take-away: Internet businesses are still likely to pay a decent amount in attorneys’ fees to dismiss such spurious lawsuits. Nevertheless, the courts are beginning to lose patience with complainants who have a general feeling that they are harmed by a website but cannot articulate the feeling into an allegation of actual, legal damages.
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