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Meyers v. Nicolet Restaurant of De Pere LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

December 13, 2016

Jeremy Meyers, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Nicolet Restaurant of De Pere, LLC, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued November 3, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. l:15-cv-00444 - William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge.

          Before Bauer, Manion, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

          Manion, Circuit Judge.

         Jeremy Meyers appeals the district court's denial of class certification in this case brought under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). This is Meyers' second putative class action under the FACTA to reach this court in a matter of months. In the prior appeal, we held that sovereign immunity barred Meyers' claim against the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin. This time, we conclude that Meyers lacks Article III standing. Therefore, we vacate the judgment of the district court and remand the case with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. Background

         The FACTA was a 2003 amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. As we detailed in Meyers v. Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wis., 836 F.3d 818, 819-20 (7th Cir. 2016) [Meyers T\, Congress enacted the FACTA in response to what it considered to be the increasing threat of identity theft. The provision at issue here was intended to "reduce the amount of potentially misappropriateable information produced in credit and debit card receipts." Id. at 820. To that end, it provides that "[n]o 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). Each willful violation entitles consumers to recover either "any actual damages sustained ... as a result" of the violation or statutory damages of between $100 and $1, 000. Id. § 1681n(a)(1)(A).

         As in Meyers Z, the facts of this case are simple and undisputed. On February 10, 2015, Meyers was given a copy of his receipt after dining at Nicolet Restaurant of de Pere in de Pere, Wisconsin. He noticed that Nicolet's receipt did not truncate the expiration date, as the FACTA requires. Two months later, Meyers filed a putative class action complaint in district court, purportedly on behalf of everyone who had been provided a non-compliant receipt at Nicolet. He sought only statutory damages.

         The district court denied Meyers' motion for class certification. Although the court held that Meyers had satisfied Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a)'s four prerequisites, it denied certification because he failed to establish that class-wide issues would "predominate" over issues affecting only individual potential class members. Fed R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3); Meyers v. Nicolet Rest, ofde Pere, LLC, No. 15-C-444, 2016 WL 1275046, at *7 (E.D. Wis. Apr. 1, 2016).

         At the same time, Meyers was pursuing his appeal in Meyers I. On September 8, 2016, we affirmed the dismissal of that case on sovereign immunity grounds. Because we held that the Tribe was immune from suit, we specifically declined to address whether Meyers had suffered a sufficient injury for Article III standing purposes. Meyers I, 836 F.3d at 821-22. We also had no occasion to determine the propriety of class certification. This appeal presents both questions. However, because we conclude that Meyers lacks standing, we do not reach the certification question.

         II. Discussion

         The Supreme Court has consistently recognized that "[n]o principle is more fundamental to the judiciary's proper role in our system of government than the constitutional limitation of federal-court jurisdiction to actual cases or controversies." Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016) (quoting Raines v. Byrd, 521 U.S. 811, 818 (1997)). Standing to sue is an important component of that limitation. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992). The requirement that litigants possess standing ensures "that courts do not decide abstract principles of law but rather concrete cases and controversies." Sierra Club v. Marita, 46 F.3d 606, 613 (7th Cir. 1995). In short, "[s]tanding is a threshold question in every federal case because if the litigants do not have standing to raise their claims the court is without authority to consider the merits of the action." Freedom From Religion Found., Inc. v. Zielke, 845 F.2d 1463, 1467 (7th Cir. 1988).

         To establish standing, Meyers "must have suffered an injury in fact-an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical." Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). He says that Congress, through the FACTA amendment, has granted him the legal right to receive a receipt that truncates the expiration date on his credit card. Nicolet responds that its violation has not caused Meyers any harm.[1]

         The parties dispute the application of the Supreme Court's decision last Term in Spokeo. That case is indeed highly relevant and worthy of close examination. The plaintiff there alleged that Spokeo ("a Web site that allows users to search for information about other individuals by name, e-mail address, or phone number") generated a profile of him that contained inaccurate information. Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1546. Particularly, the plaintiff alleged that his Spokeo profile "states that he is married, has children, is in his 50's, has a ...

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