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Robertson v. Allied Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

October 10, 2017

SHAMECA S. ROBERTSON, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLIED SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendant.

          ENTRY OF DISMISSAL

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court.

         After the parties in this case moved for preliminary approval of a settlement class, the Court directed them to brief whether the Plaintiff had alleged the type of injury-in-fact necessary to establish that she has Article III standing. See Dkt. No. 47. The parties did so. See Dkt. Nos. 51 and 52. The Seventh Circuit subsequently decided Groshek v. Great Lakes Higher Education Corp., 865 F.3d 884 (7th Cir. 2017), a case highly relevant to the issue of standing in this case. The Court then ordered the Plaintiff to show cause why this case should not be dismissed for lack of standing in light of the holding in Groshek. See Dkt. No. 55. The parties have filed responses to the order to show cause, which the Court has considered. See Dkt. Nos. 56 and 57. The Court, being duly advised, now finds that this case must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         As the Court noted in its order to show cause, in Groshek, the plaintiff, like the Plaintiff in this case, alleged a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq., (“FCRA”). Specifically, under the FCRA, a prospective employer may not obtain a consumer report for employment purposes unless

(i) a clear and conspicuous disclosure has been made in writing to the job applicant at any time before the report is procured, in a document that consists solely of the disclosure, that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes (commonly known as the “stand-alone disclosure requirement”); and, (ii) the job applicant has authorized in writing the procurement of the report.

Groshek, 865 F.3d at 886 (quoting 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2)(A)(i)-(ii)). The plaintiff in Groshek alleged that while the defendants had provided him with the disclosure, they had failed to do so in a stand-alone document as required by the statute. Similarly, the Plaintiff in this case alleges that the Defendant violated the FCRA in two ways. First, she alleges that the disclosure document she was provided (“the Document”) failed to comply with 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2)(A) because it was not a “clear and conspicuous disclosure . . . in a document that consists solely of the disclosure, that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes.” Instead, the Document contained myriad other information and disclosures. Second, she alleges that the Defendant violated 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(3)(A)(i), which provides, in relevant part, that

in using a consumer report for employment purposes, before taking any adverse action based in whole or in part on the report, the person intending to take such adverse action shall provide to the consumer to whom the report relates (i) a copy of the report; and (ii) a description in writing of the rights of the consumer under this subchapter, as prescribed by the Bureau under section 1681g(c)(3) of this title.

         In determining that Groshek had failed to plead the type of concrete injury required to establish Article III standing to sue over the statutory violation, the Seventh Circuit acknowledged that while “‘Congress is well positioned to identify intangible harms that will give rise to concrete injuries, which were previously inadequate in law, '” “‘Congress' judgment that there should be a legal remedy for the violation of a statute does not mean each statutory violation creates an Article III injury.'” Id. at 887 (quoting Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1548 (2016), and Meyers v. Nicolet Rest. of De Pere, LLC, 843 F.3d 724, 727 (7th Cir. 2016)).

For instance, a plaintiff cannot satisfy the injury-in-fact element by alleging a “bare procedural violation” that is “divorced from any concrete harm.” Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1549. Instead, the plaintiff must show that the statutory violation presented an “appreciable risk of harm” to the underlying concrete interest that Congress sought to protect by enacting the statute. Meyers, 843 F.3d at 727; see also Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1549-50.

Id. The court determined that the stand-alone disclosure provision in the FCRA “is clearly designed to decrease the risk of a job applicant unknowingly providing consent to the dissemination of his or her private information. Section 1681b(b)(2)(A)(ii), the authorization requirement, further protects consumer privacy by providing the job applicant the ability to prevent a prospective employer from procuring a consumer report, i.e., by withholding consent.” Id. (citing S. Rep. No. 104-185 at 35 (1995)). The court then held:

Here, Groshek did not allege that Appellees failed to provide him with a disclosure that informed him that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes. His complaint contained no allegation that any of the additional information caused him to not understand the consent he was giving; no allegation that he would not have provided consent but for the extraneous information on the form; no allegation that additional information caused him to be confused; and, no allegation that he was unaware that a consumer report would be procured. Instead, he simply alleged that Appellees' disclosure form contained extraneous information. We conclude that Groshek has alleged a statutory violation completely removed from any concrete harm or appreciable risk of harm.

Id.

         Similarly in this case, the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant failed to comply with the requirements of the FCRA, but like Groshek, the Plaintiff does not allege that the failure affected her in any way. She does not allege that she misunderstood or was misled in any way by the Document. She does not allege that but for the alleged deficiencies of the Document she would not have authorized the Defendant to access her consumer report. She does not allege that there was any explanation or information she could have given the Defendant about the information in her consumer report that could have altered the Defendant's decision to revoke her employment offer. As in Groshek, the statutory violation at issue could have caused harm, and in Congress's estimation there was enough theoretical risk of harm to enact the statutory requirement to protect individuals from it, but here there is no allegation that there was any harm or appreciable risk of harm to the Plaintiff.

         In her supplemental jurisdictional filings, the Plaintiff cites the Ninth Circuit's opinion in Syed v. M-I, LLC, 853 F.3d 492 (9th Cir. 2017), in support of her argument that she has Article III standing in this case. However, the Seventh Circuit found Syed to be inapposite in Groshek, noting that in Syed, “[t]he court, drawing all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor determined that the plaintiff was ‘confused by the inclusion of the liability waiver with the disclosure and would not have signed it had it contained a sufficiently clear disclosure, as required by the statute, '” while Groshek “present[ed] no factual allegations plausibly suggesting that he was confused by the disclosure form or the form's inclusion of a liability release, or that he would not have signed it had the disclosure complied with 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2)(A)(i).” Groshek, 865 F.3d at 889 (quoting Syed, 853 F.3d at 499-500). The Plaintiff in this case also has made no such factual allegations.

         The Plaintiff argues that her case is distinguishable from Groshek because her “additional claim under § 1681b(b)(3) is substantive in nature, and easily tied to a particularized and concrete injury - the loss of a job.” Dkt. No. 56 at 2. However, while the Plaintiff did, in fact, lose her job, there is no allegation that her job loss was caused in any way by the FCRA violations she alleges. In other words, the facts as alleged by the Plaintiff demonstrate that she lost her job because of information contained in the report obtained by the Defendant, not because that information may have been obtained and used in a way that violated the procedural requirements of the FCRA. Thus, her case is readily distinguishable from the case she cites, Tyus v. United States Postal Serv., 2017 WL 2656181 (E.D. Wis. June 20, 2017), in which the plaintiff alleged that the report considered by the defendant contained “multiple inaccuracies” and that had he been given time to “dispute and explain” the ...


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