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Jeffries v. Volume Services America, Inc.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 3, 2018

DORIS JEFFRIES, Plaintiff,
v.
VOLUME SERVICES AMERICA, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant Volume Services America, Inc. (d/b/a Centerplate and Centerplate/NBSE) (“Centerplate”) presently moves to dismiss Plaintiff's [1] Complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Because the Court finds that Plaintiff lacks standing, and consequently that the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the Court need not reach the sufficiency of Plaintiff's claim. Upon consideration of the briefing, [1] the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court shall GRANT Defendant Centerplate's Motion to Dismiss contained in its [9] Notice of Motion, and shall DISMISS this case.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The alleged facts in this case are few and readily stated. Plaintiff used a credit card to make a purchase from Defendant Centerplate and, in some fashion, ten Doe defendants. Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 16, 37. To memorialize the transaction, Defendants provided Plaintiff with one or more electronically printed receipts that contained the following pieces of information from Plaintiff's credit card: the full sixteen-digit card number, the expiration date, and the brand.[2] Id.

         Plaintiff brought a putative class action against Defendant Centerplate and the ten Doe defendants for allegedly violating the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (“FA C TA ”). Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶ 1. As amended by FACTA, Title 15 of the U.S. Code provides in pertinent part that “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). The transaction allegedly occurred after the effective date of this amendment. See Id. § 1681c(g)(3) (identifying effective date as either “3 years after December 4, 2003, ” or “1 year after December 4, 2003, ” depending on the machine used to print the receipt); Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶ 37 (alleging transaction “[a]fter December 3, 2006, and within two years from the date of filing of this action” on September 1, 2017).[3]

         Defendant Centerplate seeks dismissal of this action under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Now that briefing has concluded, this motion is ripe for resolution. Because the Court shall resolve this case on the grounds of Plaintiff's inability to establish standing, the fact that the Doe defendants are presently unidentified has no bearing. But for ease of reference, the Court shall refer in the remainder of this Memorandum Opinion to the actions of Defendants as attributable only to Defendant Centerplate.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1)

         A court must dismiss a case pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(1) when it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. In determining whether there is jurisdiction, the Court may “consider the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.” Coalition for Underground Expansion v. Mineta, 333 F.3d 193, 198 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). “At the motion to dismiss stage, counseled complaints, as well as pro se complaints, are to be construed with sufficient liberality to afford all possible inferences favorable to the pleader on allegations of fact.” Settles v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 429 F.3d 1098, 1106 (D.C. Cir. 2005). In spite of the favorable inferences that a plaintiff receives on a motion to dismiss, still that “[p]laintiff bears the burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.” Am. Farm Bureau v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 121 F.Supp.2d 84, 90 (D.D.C. 2000). “Although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in the complaint when reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), [a] plaintiff['s] factual allegations in the complaint . . . will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim.” Wright v. Foreign Serv. Grievance Bd., 503 F.Supp.2d 163, 170 (D.D.C. 2007) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

         B. Failure to State a Claim under Rule 12(b)(6)

         Pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a complaint on the grounds that it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “[A] complaint [does not] suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). Rather, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations that, if accepted as true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court must satisfy itself of subject-matter jurisdiction over this case before it can reach the merits of Plaintiff's claim. The jurisdictional hurdle raised by Defendant is Plaintiff's standing. Plaintiff must meet the “irreducible constitutional minimum” requirements for standing to pursue her claim in this Court. Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016) (quoting Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Absent such a showing here, the Court need not-and cannot-proceed further.

         Requiring that a plaintiff demonstrate standing ensures that she has “a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy.” Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975). T o establish standing under Article III of the Constitution, Plaintiff has the burden as to each of 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., 136 S.Ct. at 1547 (citing Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-81 (2000); Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-61; FW/PBS, Inc. v. Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 231 (1990)). As the named plaintiff in a putative class action, Plaintiff must carry the burden on her own behalf, irrespective of any arguments that a would-be class member could make. See id. at 1547 n.6 (citing Simon v. E. Ky. Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 40 n.20 (1976)).

         Pleading a sufficient injury in fact requires that the alleged harm be both “concrete and particularized.” Spokeo, Inc., 136 S.Ct. at 1545 (quoting Friends of the Earth, Inc., 528 U.S. at 180-81)) (emphasis added by Spokeo). In Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, the Supreme Court evaluated whether the allegedly false information contained in an online people-search database constituted an injury in fact for Article III standing purposes. Id. at 1544. An individual whose information appeared in this database had adequately pled a particularized harm. For this proposition, the Supreme Court recognized the Ninth Circuit's finding that the information allegedly “violated his [i.e., the plaintiff's] statutory rights” under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), as amended, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. Id. at 1545-46, 1548 (citing Robins v. Spokeo, Inc., 742 F.3d 409, 413 (9th Cir. 2014)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Ninth Circuit also had found that the plaintiff had “individualized” “personal interests in the handling of his credit information.” Id. (citing Robins, 742 F.3d at 413) (internal quotation marks omitted). But it was less clear from the Ninth Circuit's analysis whether the court had specifically determined as well that the harm was “concrete, ” in that “it must actually exist.” Id. at 1548; see also Id. (observing that Ninth Circuit had ...


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