In Jaras v. Equifax Inc., No. 17-15201, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 8743 (9th Cir. Mar. 25, 2019), the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit addressed the Article III standing of bankrupt debtors complaining about how their bankruptcy was reported on their consumer report.
In holding [in Spokeo, Ed.] that the plaintiff did have standing, we emphasized that the inaccuracies in the credit report at issue had already been requested and obtained by at least one third party, and that they were of a type likely enough to cause harm to his employment prospects at a time when he was unemployed and actively looking for work. Id. at 1116-17. By contrast, Plaintiffs here do not make any allegations about how the alleged misstatements in their credit reports would affect any transaction they tried to enter or plan to try to enter-and it is not obvious that they would, given that Plaintiffs’ bankruptcies themselves cause them to have lower credit scores with or without the alleged misstatements. They have therefore said nothing that would 5 distinguish the alleged misstatements here from the inaccurate zip code example discussed by the Supreme Court in Spokeo. Indeed, Plaintiffs have not alleged that they tried to enter any financial transaction for which their credit reports or scores were viewed at all, or that they plan to imminently do so, let alone that the alleged inaccuracies in their credit reports would make a difference to such a transaction. Unlike the plaintiff in Spokeo, Plaintiffs did not say anything about what kind of harm they were concerned about, other [*6] than making broad generalizations about how lower FICO scores can impact lending decisions generally-without any specific allegation that lower FICO scores impact lending decisions regarding individuals who are already in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Without any allegation of the credit report harming Plaintiffs’ ability to enter a transaction with a third party in the past or imminent future, Plaintiffs have failed to allege a concrete injury for standing.1 1 The absence of allegations of an actual or imminent concrete harm also causes Plaintiffs’ claims to be too amorphous to litigate. As the Supreme Court has explained: The gist of the question of standing is whether the party seeking relief has ‘alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends . . . [Standing] is demanded so that federal courts will not be asked to decide illdefined controversies over . . . issues . . . or a case which is of a hypothetical or abstract character. Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 99-100 (1968) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). 6 The absence of allegations that Plaintiffs have suffered or imminently will suffer a [*7] concrete injury compels dismissal of the Complaints in this case for lack of standing. Spokeo, 136 S. Ct. at 1547-48. But such dismissals should be without prejudice. See Missouri ex rel. Koster v. Harris, 847 F.3d 646, 656 (9th Cir. 2017) (“Plaintiffs have not satisfied the requirements [for] . . . standing. In theory, Plaintiffs could allege . . . facts that might support standing. As a result, the complaint should have been dismissed without prejudice.”); Hampton v. Pac. Inv.Mgmt. Co. LLC, 869 F.3d 844, 846 (9th Cir. 2017) (“Dismissals for lack of . . . jurisdiction . . . must be without prejudice.”).