What has the SCOTUS Ruling Done for FCRA Suits?
A United States SCOTUS ruling set the precedent for future FCRA related class action lawsuits, stating that class action suits must demonstrate proof of “concrete injury”. In ruling against Robins in the case of Spokeo Vs. Robins, the Supreme Court in effect required that those filing a lawsuit provide a much greater amount of evidence. This reduced the free for all effect of class actions suits and will likely curb the tendency of those consumers abusing the protections provided by FCRA, and the legal system, by going after cash rich companies based on bare facts, and limited evidence.
In the class action suit Spokeo vs. Robins, Virginia resident Robbins filed suit against people search engine Spokeo, claiming that Spokeo published inaccurate information about him. Robins argued that the information, presented by Spokeo, which initially seemed to present him in a positive light, misrepresented his educational and financial background, and this hurt his employment opportunities and cost him money, thus violating the FCRA statutes. The FCRA law currently provides damages of between $100 and $1,000 dollars to plaintiffs, and provisions allow for further legal action against any entity responsible for the misrepresentations.
The Supreme Court ruled against Robins, arguing that procedural violations alone without evidence of harm is insufficient justification for providing compensation. However, if that inaccurate information has valid potential to cause harm this could justify the suit. The suit thus opens up the door on the more difficult issue of defining “harm”, especially important since this is grounds for filing a class action lawsuit.
The deciding point in the case of Spokeo vs. Robbins is regarding evidence of harm. The ruling places the task of demonstrating evidence of harm more squarely on the plaintiff; pursuing confirmed damages is less difficult and takes much less time than determining whether or not violations occurred in the first place.
The SCOTUS ruling in Spokeo vs. Robbins, while requiring further clarification, has set a major precedent for rulings on future class action lawsuits involving the FCRA statutes.