Spokeo Class Action Faces Supreme Court Review


     WASHINGTON (CN) – Claims that the website Spokeo.com inaccurately described an unemployed man as wealthy and well educated will go to the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices said Monday.
     Virginia resident Thomas Robins claims that his job search has been hampered by a description of him as a high earner with a graduate degree on Spokeo, a search engine that aggregates information about individuals.
     Alleging that the misinformed profile violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Robins proposed a 2010 class action against Spokeo in Los Angeles.
     U.S. District Judge Otis Wright dismissed Robins’ first complaint for lack of standing, and eventually did the same with an amended complaint. The judge found that Robins had failed to show that he had suffered any actual harm.
     A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court reversed last year.
     At this early stage of the case, Robins can gain standing by alleging a violation of the FCRA “without showing actual harm,” that ruling says.
     “The statutory cause of action does not require a showing of actual harm when a plaintiff sues for willful violations,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the panel.
     “When, as here, the statutory cause of action does not require proof of actual damages, a plaintiff can suffer a violation of the statutory right without suffering actual damages,” he added.
     The panel remanded the case to Los Angeles without deciding whether “harm to … employment prospects or related anxiety could be sufficient injuries in fact,” or whether “Spokeo qualifies as a consumer reporting agency or whether Spokeo actually violated the FCR.”Per its custom, the Supreme Court did not issue any comment in granting Spokeo a writ of certiorari Monday.

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