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Dilday v. Directv, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 29, 2017

MICHAEL DILDAY Plaintiff,
v.
DIRECTV, LLC. Et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION (DISMISSING CASE FOR LACK OF SUBJECT-MATTER JURISDICTION)

          Henry E. Hudson United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on its own initiative. Plaintiff Michael Dilday ("Plaintiff) brings this action against DIRECTV, LLC ("DIRECTV") and Equifax Information Services, LLC ("Equifax") alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.[1] (See generally Compl., ECF No. 1.)

         As an affirmative defense, DIRECTV asserted that Plaintiff lacks standing to bring this action because he has not suffered a concrete and particularized injury. (DIRECTV'S Answer ¶ 36, ECF No. 10.) Because this calls into question subject-matter jurisdiction, the Court ordered the parties to submit memoranda addressing Plaintiffs standing. (ECF No. 13.)

         Pursuant to the Court's Order, Defendants filed a joint opening brief on February 13, 2017, arguing that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff has suffered no injury and thus has no standing. (ECF No. 14.) At Plaintiffs request, the Court granted him a two-week extension to file his response brief, yet he has failed to do so. (See ECF No. 18.) Despite Plaintiffs lack of response, the Court finds that the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before the Court. The Court will also dispense with oral argument, which would not aid in the decisional process. E.D. Va. Loc. Civ. R. 7(J).

         For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and therefore must dismiss this action.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In his three-count Complaint filed on December 21, 2016, Plaintiff avers that DIRECTV obtained his consumer report from Equifax, despite the fact that he never had an account with DIRECTV. (Compl. ¶¶9, 10.) The Complaint, however, conspicuously omits any factual allegation regarding why DIRECTV obtained his credit report or how DIRECTV allegedly used it.

         Plaintiff contends that Equifax "did not have a lawful or reasonable basis to believe, let alone know, that DIRECTV had a permissible purpose to obtain and use [his] consumer report" and that it lacked reasonable procedures to "assume the proper use of and lawful purpose for such reports." (Id. ¶¶ 12, 19.) Therefore, Plaintiff asserts in a conclusory manner that he is "entitled to recover actual damages" because Equifax "provided and published" his consumer report to DIRECTV. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 17, 21.)

         However, Plaintiff has failed to plead what those "actual damages" are. And, when presented with the Court's concern over whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction in this case (see ECF No. 13), Plaintiff neither took steps to defend the sufficiency of his factual allegations nor attempted to file an amended complaint bolstering his position.

         II. LEGAL FRAMEWORK

         A bedrock constitutional principle of our Federal Government is the division of powers between its branches. As such, it is well settled that judicial power is limited to the extent that federal courts may exercise jurisdiction only over "cases" and "controversies." U.S. Const, art. Ill. §2; Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 559 (1992). Thus, subject-matter jurisdiction requires a justiciable case or controversy within the meaning of Article III of the United States Constitution. See Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750-51 (1984) abrogated on other grounds by Lexmark Int'l Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 1377 (2014). Standing constitutes one component of justiciability. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560. Whether a plaintiff has standing presents a "threshold question in every federal case, determining the power of the court to entertain the suit." Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975). "The objection that a federal court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction ... may be raised by a party, or by a court on its own initiative, at any stage in the litigation Arbaugh v. Y&HCorp., 546 U.S. 500, 506 (2006).

         The Supreme Court has established that the "irreducible constitutional minimum" of standing includes three elements: (1) an injury-in-fact; (2) a causal connection between the injury and the alleged misconduct; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision. Lujan, 504 U.S at 560-61 (citations omitted). Because Plaintiff seeks to invoke this Court's jurisdiction, he bears the burden of establishing all three elements. Id. at 561. "Where, as here, a case is at the pleading stage, the plaintiff must 'clearly ... allege facts demonstrating' each element." Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016), as revised(May 24, 2016) (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 518 (1975)).

         In Spokeo, the Supreme Court reiterated the basic tenants of the standing doctrine. 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016). It noted that to satisfy the injury-in-fact requirement, a plaintiff must show '"an invasion of a legally protected interest' that is 'concrete and particularized' and 'actual and imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.'" Id. at 1548 (citing Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560).

         To satisfy the particularization requirement, the plaintiff "must allege a distinct and palpable injury to himself." Warth, 422 U.S. at 501 (citations omitted). The injury must "affect the plaintiff in a personal and individual way." Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560 n.l. Claims asserting "'generalized grievance[s]' shared in substantially equal measure by all or a large class of citizens ... normally do[] ...


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