Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins: U.S. Supreme Court Affirms That Bare Procedural and Technical Violations Do Not Confer Standing

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - May 17, 2016

The Supreme Court held yesterday in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins that the injury-in-fact requirement of standing includes two independent components—particularity and concreteness—and remanded for the Ninth Circuit to address the latter.  In so holding, the Court did not squarely address when Congress may confer Article III standing for intangible harms.  This is the second time that the Court has granted review to clarify when Congress may confer constitutional standing by statute, having four years ago agreed to hear First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards, 132 S. Ct. 2536 (2012), before dismissing that case as improvidently granted.  The Court did clarify, however, that plaintiffs must always have a concrete injury, even in the context of a statutory violation.  Plaintiffs who allege bare procedural and technical violations do not satisfy Article III’s concreteness component.  The Court’s decision thus should prevent plaintiffs from bringing actions, including class actions under various consumer statutes, for nominal statutory violations that did not result in real harm to those plaintiffs.