Judge Troy Nunley of the Eastern District of California is the latest to issue an important new opinion analyzing the Supreme Court’s Spokeo decision. Courts around the country have grappled with Spokeo and whether various statutory violations confer Article III standing.
In Fraser v. Wal-Mart, Judge Nunley considered California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act of 1971; Wal-Mart allegedly violated the Act by requesting and recording its customers’ ZIP codes. Notably, a recent decision from the District of Columbia found plaintiffs in a similar suit lacked standing. See Hancock v. Urban Outfitters, Inc., 2016 WL 3996710 (D.C. Cir. July 26, 2016).
Wal-Mart sought dismissal on a similar basis, arguing that plaintiffs had alleged only “a bare procedural violation” of the Act, which is not enough to constitute standing under Spokeo. Judge Nunley, however, wrote that “The Supreme Court explained that ‘the violation of a procedural right granted by statute can be sufficient in some circumstances to constitute injury in fact … [and] a plaintiff in such a case need not allege any additional harm beyond the one Congress has identified.’” The court continued: “this Court finds that Plaintiffs adequately allege a procedural violation of Section 1747.08 sufficient to satisfy Article III standing requirements.”
Finally, the court noted that the Spokeo Court had also recognized that the risk of future harm can satisfy the requirement of concreteness for standing purposes. With that in mind, the court issued an alternative basis for its holding: “the Court finds that Plaintiffs sufficiently allege concrete harm because they assert that Defendant’s collection of their ZIP codes exposed them to undesired marketing contact, credit card fraud, identity theft, stalking, and hackers.”