Spokeo v. Robins: Supreme Court Decision Announced


Spokeo v. Robins has been a closely-followed case among background screening companies because of the potential ramifications of the claims made in the lawsuit. Thomas Robins discovered that his Spokeo profile contained inaccurate information about him and filed suit alleging that Spokeo had willfully failed to comply with the FCRA.

The Supreme Court announced its ruling in the Spokeo v. Robins case this morning. It was a 6-2 decision with Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissenting. Both opinions (as well as a concurring opinion by Justice Thomas) focused on the issue of standing and whether Robins could claim an injury that was “concrete and particularized”; in other words, that he could demonstrate a link between Spokeo’s violation of the FCRA (by collecting and disseminating information about him that was untrue) and actual harm that was done to him.

The majority determined that Robins cannot make a claim solely based on a statutory violation, and that the Ninth Circuit failed to consider all aspects of Article III in reversing the original decision. The dissenting opinion agreed with the majority on principle but maintained that Robins had a legitimate claim to concrete and particularized injury and therefore had standing to file suit.

The case has been remanded to the Ninth Circuit, which will reconsider the case in light of the Supreme Court decision. You can read the full decision at this link.