June 28, 2017

Tenth Circuit: Case or Controversy Consistently Found Between Officials Charged with Enforcing Law and Private Parties Potentially Subject to Enforcement

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in Consumer Data Industry Assoc. v. King on Monday, May 7, 2012.

The Tenth Circuit vacated the district court’s decision. “New Mexico enacted a law making it easier for victims of identity theft to expunge negative information from their credit reports. Before the law took effect, the Consumer Data Industry Association (“CDIA”), a trade group comprised of hundreds of consumer-data companies, brought a pre-enforcement challenge contending the law is preempted by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). The CDIA sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the New Mexico Attorney General, who, along with aggrieved consumers, has authority to enforce the law through civil suit. Concluding equitable relief against the Attorney General would not adequately redress CDIA’s injuries, the district court dismissed the case as non-justiciable.” Petitioners appeals the district court’s decision.

The Court vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded for further proceedings. “[F]ederal courts have consistently found a case or controversy in suits between state officials charged with enforcing a law and private parties potentially subject to enforcement.” As such, Petitioners have standing to sue for injunctive relief. Also, to satisfy the ‘case or controversy’ requirement, “a request for declaratory relief must settle ‘some dispute which affects the behavior of the defendant toward the plaintiff’; Here,  Petitioners are faced with the imminent threat of the new law’s enforcement and a declaration that the challenged provisions are preempted by federal law would redress the threat of enforcement. Lastly, “ripeness is seldom an obstacle to a pre-enforcement challenge in this posture, where the plaintiff faces a ‘credible threat’ of enforcement, and ‘should not be required to await and undergo [enforcement] as the sole means of seeking relief.'”

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