The Eleventh Circuit Takes A Hard Look At Standing

Blog_Wasmuth Circuit Court

Article III of the U.S. Constitution provides that federal courts can decide “cases” and “controversies.”  The United States Supreme Court has interpreted that to mean that only a plaintiff who has suffered an “injury in fact” has “standing” to bring a case in federal court.  The Eleventh Circuit most recently addressed the issue of standing in Cordoba v. DirecTV, LLC, Case No. 18-12077 (decided November 15, 2019).

In Cordoba, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) because he received telephone solicitations from the defendants despite having put his telephone number on a do-not-call list. The Eleventh Circuit concluded that the individual plaintiff had standing because an unsolicited telephone call was a sufficient intrusion on the plaintiff to amount to an injury-in-fact.

The plaintiff sought to represent a class of similar individuals.  Although the District Court had certified such a class, the Eleventh Circuit reversed.  The Court concluded that each class member’s standing (injury-in-fact) had to be proven.  The Eleventh Circuit questioned whether common issues “predominated” if the standing of each class member had to be proven.  The Court remanded the case for further proceedings.

The Court in Cordoba noted an earlier decision in which the Court held that the receipt of an unsolicited fax solicitation in violation of the TCPA caused that plaintiff to suffer an injury in fact.  Palm Beach Golf-Center Boca v. John G. Sarris, D.D.S., P.A., 781 F.3d 1245 (11th Cir. 2018).  It also noted an earlier case when it concluded that a single unsolicited text message was not a sufficient imposition on the plaintiff to amount to an injury-in-fact.  Salcedo v. Hanna, 936 F.3d 1162 (11th Cir. 2019).

In another recent case, the Eleventh Circuit said that it would consider en banc the question of standing in another case alleging a statutory violation.  Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., Case No. 16-16486 (en banc reconsideration granted October 4, 2019).  In that case, a panel of the Court had concluded that the defendant’s printing of more than the last five digits from a consumer’s credit card on a receipt in violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act inflicted an injury-in-fact sufficient to give a plaintiff standing.  922 F.3d 1175 (11th Cir. 2019).

This flurry of decision shows that the Court is looking closely at whether a statutory violation inflicts an injury-in-fact.  Standing is an issue that every defendant should consider raising in federal court in any case based on a violation of federal law.

For more information on legal standing, please contact your Appellate Counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell.