Ninth Circuit Reverses District Court Finding Regarding FCRA Violations

In Bultemeyer v. CenturyLink, Inc., the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed an earlier decision by the District Court which had determined that the plaintiff lacked Article III standing to file suit, alleging Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations were committed by the defendant.

In this case, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant violated FCRA regulations by obtaining her credit report without a permissible purpose and without required authorization. Originally, it was determined by the District Court that the plaintiff failed to sufficiently demonstrate a concrete injury in order to satisfy Article III standing under Spokeo. As such, the District Court dismissed the claim, contending that the defendant did nothing harmful to the plaintiff with the information and that the plaintiff's allegations were only that of "a bare procedural violation without identifying any concrete harm."

Conversely, the Ninth Circuit held that section 1681b(f)(1) of the FCRA "protects the consumer's substantive privacy interest" by prohibiting third parties from "obtaining a credit report for a purpose not otherwise authorized." The Ninth Circuit added that because any violation of this section "offends the interest that the statute protects," a plaintiff "has standing to vindicate her right to privacy under the FCRA when a third-party obtains her credit report without a purpose authorized by the statute, regardless of whether the credit report is published or otherwise used by that third-party." Ultimately, the Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiff's allegation did meet the threshold to establish Article III standing. As such, the District Court decision was reversed.


Posted: February 19, 2020

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