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Jeffries v. Volume Services America, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

July 2, 2019

Doris Jeffries, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Appellant
v.
Volume Services America, Inc., doing business as Centerplate and Centerplate/NBSE and Does 1 Through 10, inclusive, Appellees

          Argued February 21, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:17-cv-01788)

          Brian K. Herrington argued the cause for the appellant. Chant Yedalian was with him on brief.

          Mark W. Bayer argued the cause for the appellee Volume Services America, Inc. Scott N. Godes was with him on brief.

          Before: Henderson and Rogers, Circuit Judges, and Edwards, Senior Circuit Judge.

          KAREN LECRAFT HENDERSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Doris Jeffries made a credit card purchase at a Centerplate[1] location and received a receipt that displayed her sixteen-digit credit card number and credit card expiration date. Jeffries sued Centerplate for violating the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA), Pub. L. No. 108-159, § 113, 117 Stat. 1952, 1959-60 (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1681c(g)), which prohibits printing "more than the last 5 digits of the card number or the expiration date upon any receipt provided to the cardholder at the point of the sale or transaction." 15 U.S.C. § 1681c(g)(1). The district court granted Centerplate's motion to dismiss, concluding that Jeffries lacked standing. Jeffries v. Volume Servs. Am., Inc., 319 F.Supp.3d 525, 527 (D.D.C. 2018). Jeffries timely appealed and we now reverse and remand.

         I. Background

         "The crime of identity theft-in which a perpetrator assumes the identity of a victim in order to obtain financial products and services or other benefits in the victim's name- ha[d] reached almost epidemic proportions" in the early 2000s. H.R. Rep. No. 108-263, at 25 (2003). "A hotline established by the Federal Trade Commission to field consumer complaints and questions about identity theft logged over 160, 000 calls in 2002 alone." Id. "[E]lectronically printed receipts" provided criminals with "easy access to" credit and debit card information. S. Rep. No. 108-166, at 3 (2003). In response to the increasing identity theft threat, the Congress enacted FACTA, which mandates (inter alia): "no person that accepts credit cards or debit cards for the transaction of business shall print more than the last 5 digits of the card number or the expiration date upon any receipt provided to the cardholder at the point of the sale or transaction." 15 U.S.C. § 1681c(g)(1). Any person who willfully violates this truncation requirement-that is, anyone who willfully prints more than five digits or the expiration date on a receipt-is liable for "any actual damages sustained by the consumer . . . or damages of not less than $100 and not more than $1, 000" and for "such amount of punitive damages as the court may allow." Id. § 1681n(a)(1)(A), (a)(2).

         Doris Jeffries made a purchase at a Centerplate location. Centerplate provided Jeffries with a receipt containing all sixteen digits of her credit card number, her credit card expiration date and her credit card provider. She immediately recognized that the receipt contained her personal information and held on to it for safekeeping. Jeffries then filed this class action lawsuit against Centerplate, alleging willful violations of FACTA's truncation requirement. According to the complaint, Centerplate's conduct violated Jeffries' statutory right and, as a result, exposed her to an increased risk of identity theft. Because of Centerplate's conduct, Jeffries was also forced to take steps to safeguard the non-compliant receipt.

         Centerplate moved to dismiss the case for lack of standing. Jeffries, 319 F.Supp.3d at 528. The district court determined that Jeffries did not suffer an increased risk of identity theft because Jeffries-and only Jeffries-viewed the receipt containing her credit card information. Id. at 533-34. The district court also concluded that the burden of safeguarding the non-compliant receipt-the second form of harm identified in the complaint-was insufficiently concrete to support standing. Id. at 530. Finding both harms alleged in the complaint inadequate, the district court held that Jeffries lacked standing and dismissed her case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Id. at 534. Jeffries appeals the dismissal. "Our review is de novo." Nat'l Ass'n of Home Builders v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 786 F.3d 1050, 1052 (D.C. Cir. 2015).

         II. Analysis

         Article III of the United States Constitution limits the federal "judicial Power" to "Cases" and "Controversies." U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1. A case or controversy does not exist "unless the plaintiff has standing." West v. Lynch, 845 F.3d 1228, 1230 (D.C. Cir. 2017). Standing has three elements. "The plaintiff must have (1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision." Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016). An injury in fact is "an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical." Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992) (quotation marks and internal citations omitted). The district court dismissed this action at the pleading stage, when a plaintiff is required only to state plausibly that each standing element exists. Attias v. Carefirst, Inc., 865 F.3d 620, 625 (D.C. Cir. 2017). Causation and redressability are not in dispute. The issue is whether Jeffries alleged an adequate injury in fact.

         Jeffries contends that the violation of her statutory right under FACTA constitutes an injury in fact without any additional showing of harm. "[T]he violation of a procedural right granted by statute can be sufficient in some circumstances to constitute injury in fact." Spokeo, Inc., 136 S.Ct. at 1549. The United States Supreme Court has long recognized that the "Congress may create a statutory right or entitlement the alleged deprivation of which can confer standing to sue even where the plaintiff would ...


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