The Eighth Circuit Charts a Course for Data Privacy Cases in the Wake of Spokeo for Technical Violations of a Statute That Result in no Harm

By Ryan M. Tosi and Lindsay Sampson Bishop

The Eighth Circuit recently became the one of the first federal Courts of Appeals to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s Article III standing decision in Spokeo Inc. v. Robins to a data privacy case. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action complaint on the basis that the plaintiff failed to allege a concrete injury that “actually exist[s],” is “real,” and is not “abstract.” The lawsuit alleged that Charter Communications, Inc. (“Charter”), a company providing cable services, retained the personally identifiable information (“PII”) of its former customers well after the customers’ cancellation of their services. Because the plaintiff asserted only a technical violation of the statute, without alleging how that violation had actually injured him, the Eighth Circuit found that, under Spokeo, the plaintiff failed to plead a concrete and particularized injury sufficient to establish standing to file suit in federal court.

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