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Technical Harm Not Enough for Standing: SCOTUS decides Robins v. Spokeo

May 16, 2016

On Monday, May 16, 2016, SCOTUS sided 6-2, with a company over the fact that an injury must exist in order for a consumer to sue for privacy violations. Spokeo, Inc., an online “people search” company published incorrect information about Plaintiff, Thomas Robins who sued Spokeo claiming he was harmed by the misinformation published about him. Robins alleged a violation of Fair Credit Reporting Act.  However, in a majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court disagreed with Robins and remanded the case back to the lower Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to determine if Mr. Robins suffered a concrete harm. In the majority opinion, Justice Alito said, “We have made it clear time and time again that an injury in fact must be both concrete and particularized.” Furthermore, “not all inaccuracies present harm or create any material risk of harm.” Additionally, the Supreme Court’s decision has made clear that not all violations of statute show the injury-in-fact requirement to gain standing under Article III. SCOTUS’s Opinion makes clear that without both particularization and concreteness future plaintiffs will not have standing to bring a suit under Article III regardless of whether there was a violation of statute or not.
 
For more information, please contact Ted Schaer, CIPP/US at tmschaer@zarwin.com

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