In Spokeo v. Robins,742 F.3d 409 (9th Cir. 2013), the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that FCRA itself provided Article III standing, even if the Plaintiff could prove no actual damage.
Spokeo contends, however, that Robins cannot sue under the FCRA without showing actual harm. But the statutory cause of action does not require a showing of actual harm when a plaintiff sues for willful violations. 15 U.S.C. § 1681n(a) (“Any person who willfully fails to comply with any requirement imposed under this subchapter with respect to any consumer is liable to that consumer in an amount equal to … damages of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000….”); see also Beaudry v. TeleCheck Servs., Inc., 579 F.3d 702, 705–07 (6th Cir.2009) (ruling that the FCRA “permits a recovery when there are no identifiable or measurable actual damages”); Murray v. GMAC Mortg. *413 Corp., 434 F.3d 948, 952–53 (7th Cir.2006) (ruling that the FCRA “provide[s] for modest damages without proof of injury”). The scope of the cause of action determines the scope of the implied statutory right. See Edwards, 610 F.3d at 517 (“Because the statutory text does not limit liability to instances in which a plaintiff is overcharged, we hold that Plaintiff has established an injury sufficient to satisfy Article III.”). 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.
The SCOTUS has now granted cert. in Spokeo Inc. v. Robins, 2015 WL 1879778 (S.Ct. 2015) to address whether Congress may confer Article III standing upon a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm, and who therefore could not otherwise invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court, by authorizing a private right of action based on a bare violation of a federal statute. SCOTUS’ ruling on this matter will have impacts on a host of consumer protection statutes, including the FDCPA and TCPA.