The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of claims from both the plaintiff and defendant in a case in which the defendant was accused of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act for putting the name of the plaintiff on a pre-screen list that was made available to a creditor looking to promote lending products.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Crabtree v. Experian Information Systems can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff sued after learning that his name was included on a list of individuals who might be interested in a lending product from a creditor. The plaintiff alleged the defendant violated the FCRA by invading his privacy and causing emotional distress. The defendant filed a counterclaim of its own, alleging that how the plaintiff found out about the list — from someone he knew who gave it to him — was a violation of the FCRA itself because the plaintiff was not intending on using the list to make an offer of credit, which was what the list was intended for in the first place.
A District Court judge dismissed both claims, ruling that neither side had standing to sue because they had not suffered a concrete injury. Both sides appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit.
Because the plaintiff only learned about his name being included on the pre-screened list five years after it occurred, that does not rise to the level of a concrete injury, the Seventh Circuit ruled. The plaintiff acknowledged that he likely received the offer from the creditor that originally obtained the list, and the Seventh Circuit ruled that this amounted to a “bare procedural violation” of the FCRA that does not meet the injury-in-fact requirements under Article III of the Constitution.
“Crabtree had to come forward with something showing that he did not receive a firm offer, that Western Sierra would not have honored a firm offer, that he was affected by the lack of a firm offer, or that he suffered any actual emotional damages,” the Seventh Circuit wrote. “He failed on each possible ground, leaving him without the concrete injury necessary for Article III standing.”
Experian tried to convince the court that defending itself against the lawsuit filed by the plaintiff amounted to suffering a concrete injury, but the court determined that the defendant was attempting to “shoehorn itself” into another cause of action.