Spokeo: State Legislatures Can Also Elevate A Harm for Article III Standing Purposes

Last month, we wrote about a decision in the Eastern District of California, where the court held that a violation of a procedural right granted by a state statute could constitute a concrete harm under Spokeo.  Several new decisions agree.

Most recently, in Bellino v. JPMorgan Chase, Judge Nelson Roman of the Southern District of New York reached the same conclusion in the context of claims that JPMorgan systematically fails to timely present mortgage satisfaction notices for recording.  2016 WL 5173392 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 20, 2016).

Presented with an Article III standing challenge, Judge Roman held that violations of state statutes like the New York Real Property Law and the New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law give rise to concrete harm under Spokeo.  As a starting point, Judge Roman agreed with an earlier decision

that “a state statute, like a federal statute, may create a legal right, the invasion of which may constitute a concrete injury for Article III purposes.” Jaffe, 2016 WL 3944753, at *4. As noted by Judge Briccetti, though the Second Circuit has yet to address the issue, other circuits have determined that state statutes may define an injury for Article III standing purposes. Id. at *3 (citing FMC Corp. v. Boesky, 852 F.2d 981, 993 (7th Cir.1988); Cantrell v. City of Long Beach, 241 F.3d 674, 684 (9th Cir.2001); Utah ex rel. Div. of Forestry, Fire & State Lands v. United States, 528 F.3d 712 (10th Cir.2008)). This Court finds the reasoning of those other circuits persuasive.

Judge Roman then noted that the New York statutes at issue require mortgagees to file a satisfaction of mortgage within 30 days and also authorize a mortgagor to file suit for a failure to comply with the statutes. Judge Roman held:

Consequently, the New York State legislature has created a new right—the right to have a certificate of satisfaction filed within 30 days of paying off a mortgage—and a new injury—not having that certificate timely filed. It is undisputed that Defendant did not file a certificate of satisfaction of mortgage for Plaintiffs mortgage within 30 days of receipt of the full amount of principal and interest on Plaintiffs mortgage. That Defendant ultimately filed the certificate after the 30-day deadline and while Plaintiff may not have sustained additional, economic injuries is of no moment. The Supreme Court was clear in Spokeo that a concrete harm need not be tangible. The statutes create a substantive right for Plaintiff to have the satisfaction of mortgage timely filed, and Defendant violated that right. Nothing more is required, here, to demonstrate an injury-in-fact.

(emphasis added).