The Supreme Court’s Spokeo Decision: Concrete Shoes For Consumer Class Actions?

On May 16, 2016, the Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins. The decision takes on a hot topic in consumer class action law today—what must a plaintiff plead and prove to have standing to sue for a violation of a federal statute? The Court held that an allegation of a statutory violation, without some showing of concrete harm, is not enough. Instead, in this Fair Credit Reporting Act case, the issue is “[w]hether the particular procedural violations alleged . . . entail a degree of risk [of harm] sufficient to meet the concreteness requirement.” In its focused 11-page opinion, the Court declined to decide to evaluate that risk on the record before it and, instead, remanded the case to the Ninth Circuit for further proceedings. However, the Court did provide several guideposts for how the Ninth Circuit, and courts around the country evaluating standing questions, may consider plaintiffs’ claimed injuries.

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