IL appeals court: No need to show FedEx harmed anyone to press class action over card digits on receipt

By D.M. Herra | Jan 28, 2019

Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons

A state appellate panel says a woman doesn’t need to show she or anyone else was actually harmed when too many of her credit card numbers were printed on a receipt, and will allow her class action lawsuit against FedEx to resume.

On Jan. 25, a three-justice panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court overturned the ruling of Cook County Judge Sanjay Taylor, who had dismissed the class action lawsuit against FedEx Office and Print Services Inc. by plaintiff Karen Duncan.

In the suit, Duncan claimed, when she visited the company’s Oak Lawn store in 2017, she received a receipt listing the first two and last four digits of her personal credit card number.

Duncan sued FedEx for a violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), a federal law that makes it a crime to print more than the last five digits of a credit card number or the credit card expiration date on a customer receipt. The first six digits of a standard 16-digit credit card number are known as the issuer identification number and identify the card issuer, network, card level, card type and bank. Duncan claimed the company put her and “thousands” of other customers at heightened risk of identity theft and credit card fraud by including the first two digits of the card number.

Justice Sheldon Harris

FedEx argued that Duncan had not alleged any injury to herself. In 2018, the trial court granted FedEx’s motion to dismiss for lack of standing.

While the court noted that it believed there was a basis for a claim under the statutory framework, it recognized that three federal appellate courts had ruled a plaintiff who had suffered no actual damages cannot bring a claim under FACTA when a company prints a card’s expiration date on the receipt. The court wrote that it saw no “distinction between the illegal printing of the expiration date and the illegal printing of more than just the last five digits of the credit card number.”

In its reversal, state appellate justices found the federal statute is clear in forbidding sellers to print any of a credit card number’s first 11 digits on a receipt and that it provides recourse for a customer even if he or she suffered no actual damages.

The opinion was authored by Justice Sheldon Harris, which justices Joy V. Cunningham and Maureen E. Connors concurring.

According to Justice Harris’ opinion, the trial court failed to take into consideration the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that violating a statute’s procedural requirements “can be sufficient in some circumstances to constitute injury in fact,” especially in cases where injury may be difficult to quantify, the appellate court wrote.

Some federal courts, when faced with cases in which credit card expiration dates were improperly printed on receipts, found plaintiffs should not be allowed to sue because there is no evidence that disclosure heightened the customers’ risk for fraud. Other courts, however, interpreted the language of the statute to mean that Congress intended to give people the legal right to receive a point-of-sale receipt showing no more than the last five digits of their card number, Harris wrote.

“FedEx contends we should follow the federal cases that require Duncan to show she suffered a concrete injury in addition to a procedural violation of FACTA, but there is no consensus among the federal courts on this issue,” Harris wrote.

A plaintiff who alleges a statutory violation in an Illinois court needs to meet no additional requirements to obtain standing, justices said; they need only allege that the law was violated. The appellate justices noted that even in its dismissal of Duncan’s suit, the trial court had said “there are sufficient facts to allege a willful violation of the statute.”

The case has been remanded to the trial court.

According to Cook County court records, Duncan is represented in the action by attorneys with the firm of Edelson P.C., of Chicago.

FedEx is represented by the firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLC, of Chicago.

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Organizations in this Story

Circuit Court of Cook County Edelson PC Fedex Office & Print Services Illinois First District Appellate Court Steptoe & Johnson PLLC

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