Appeals panel: Woman wasn't harmed by credit card digits on receipt, can't sue Costco

By John Breslin | Jan 15, 2019

By Corey Coyle, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56796515

CHICAGO – A Costco customer has failed in her appeal against a lower court's decision dismissing her claim for damages after a warehouse club allegedly printed more than the five digits of her credit card number on a receipt.

The Illinois First District Appellate Court on Dec. 26 affirmed the ruling of Cook County Judge Anna Helen Demacopoulos that Emiguela Paci lacked standing in her case against Costco, because she suffered no injury and the violation was technical.

Paci first sued Costco in Chicago federal court alleging the company violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). 

This complaint was dismissed, also on the grounds that she suffered no harm, but the plaintiff filed a new one in Cook County Circuit Court in May 2017.

"The district court did not reach the parties’ summary judgment arguments. Instead, the district court found plaintiff did not articulate any actual harm or increased risk of injury, and therefore could not satisfy the injury in fact requirement for standing," First District Appellate Justice Nathaniel Howse Jr. wrote in his judgment. Justices James Fitzgerald Smith and David Ellis concurred.

Paci was seeking statutory damages for the "willful violations" of the FACTA, but did not make a claim for actual damages.

According to the decision, the plaintiff bought two items at the Costco location in Niles in 2016 and was stopped at the exit and asked for proof that she purchased them. The opinion said she had lost the receipt and asked for a replacement receipt from the supervisor of the store, who then printed out a "summary journal" of the purchases, which she later found had listed six digits of her credit card. She kept the receipt.

Justices explained that FACTA states “no person that accepts credit cards or debit cards for the transaction of business shall print more than the last five digits of the card number."

The court was not convinced that Paci was owed damages because there was no injury alleged.

"We conclude plaintiff must allege a distinct and palpable injury to have standing to sue for the minimum statutory damages provided in the statute, and therefore we affirm the judgment of the trial court," Howse wrote.

The decision was delivered as an unpublished order issued under Supreme Court Rule 23, which limits its use as precedent.

According to Cook County court records, Paci is represented in the action by attorneys with The Warner Law Firm, of Park Ridge.

Costco is represented by attorneys with Ellis Legal PC, of Chicago.

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Organizations in this Story

Ellis Legal P.C. Illinois First District Appellate Court Warner Law Firm

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