Pennsylvania Court Holds Decision In FACTA Lawsuit

July 10, 2023

The United States Supreme Court recently held in its decision concerning alleged Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations. According to the Spokeo v. Robins case, a plaintiff unable to prove concrete suffering or harm from the transgression does not have standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution. As such, they cannot sue for statutory damages in a federal court under this Article.

Many believed this decision would decrease the number of federal statutory claims filed in federal courts. As such, the financial services industry strongly approved of the adopted standard. However, they worried that some plaintiffs could still pursue these suits in a state court. Concerned parties specifically cited that this event could happen after claims get remanded or dismissed under the Spokeo decision. They say state courts often display a more liberal view of standing requirements.

An example of these concerns occurred in the Pennsylvania Superior Court. In a putative class action case, the state court addressed an alleged violation concerning the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). Pennsylvania held that the plaintiffs did not have standing, dismissing the complaint.

The plaintiffs alleged that a retailer violated their rights under the FACTA. According to the case, the retailer gave them a receipt listing the first six and last four digits of their used credit card. The plaintiffs did not claim that this violation resulted in anyone stealing their identity or credit card information. Instead, they claimed that it increased the risk of theft.

They filed this claim in a Pennsylvania federal district court. However, the Court dismissed it based on the Third Circuit’s 2019 decision in Kamal v. J. Crew Group. The 2019 decision required concrete harm involving technical FACTA violations to meet Article III standing. According to the Third Circuit, it based this decision on the Spokeo case.

The case then transferred to a state court. In the appeal, the plaintiffs argued against restricting their standing to Article III when they had statutory standing under Pennsylvania law. The plaintiffs argued the same point for traditional standing under state law. However, the Superior Court rejected the plaintiff’s statutory claim. 

It asserted that FACTA does not have a provision describing who has standing to pursue a FACTA claim. Additionally, the Court remarked that FACTA does not automatically grant standing through a private right of action. Finally, it rejected the traditional standing claim. While not bound by the Third Circuit’s decision in the Kamal Case, the Superior Court found it relevant to the plaintiff’s suit. This decision helped the Court determine the plaintiffs’ grievance based on the state’s traditional standing doctrine.

The Superior Court determined that the plaintiffs shared interests regarding adequately truncated receipts with other consumers. However, the Court decided that the plaintiffs’ speculated identity theft risk did not sufficiently establish a direct, immediate, and substantial interest necessary for standing. As a result, the Superior Court sided with the defendant, concluding that their conduct did not adversely impact the plaintiffs.

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