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Lindner v. Roti Restaurants, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 24, 2017

COOPER LINDNER,, Plaintiffs,
ROTI RESTAURANTS, LLC, d/b/a Roti Modern Mediterranean and d/b/a Roti Mediterranean Grill, a Delaware limited liability company, Defendant.


          Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Roti Restaurants, LLC's motion to dismiss [10] and Plaintiffs Cooper Lindner's and Kim Smith's motion to remand [20] this case to the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) for lack of federal jurisdiction. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' motion to remand [20] is granted, and Defendant's motion to dismiss [10] is denied as moot.

         I. Background

         This dispute is before the Court for the second time. The first iteration of this lawsuit, Lindner v. Roti Restaurants, LLC, No. 16-cv-7653 (N.D. Ill.), was short-lived-less than five months.

         The basic facts of the dispute are simply recited. On July 26, 2016, Plaintiff Cooper Lindner made a purchase at one of Defendant's restaurants in downtown Chicago, Illinois. He used a credit card for the transaction and received a receipt that contained the first six and last four digits of his card's numbers printed on it. Two days later, on July 28, 2016, Lindner filed a putative class action in this Court, alleging that Defendant's receipt violated 15 U.S.C. § 1681c(g), a provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), as amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (“FACTA”), which prohibits printing more than five digits of a credit card number on an electronically printed receipt. On August 15, 2016, Lindner filed an amended complaint, adding Kim Smith as Plaintiff. Smith had made a purchase at one of Defendant's restaurants in Vernon Hills, Illinois on July 28, 2016. Like Lindner, Smith used a credit card for the transaction, and like Lindner, Smith received a receipt that displayed the first six and last four numbers of her card. Because of this non-compliant practice, Plaintiffs believe they (and the class of similarly situated persons they hope to represent) have “been exposed to an increased risk of credit card fraud and identity theft.” Plaintiffs do not allege that either of these risks has been realized with respect to themselves or any other person in their putative class.

         In November 2016, Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that under Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540 (2016), Plaintiffs could not satisfy the Article III standing requirement to proceed in federal court. On December 13, 2016, this Court set a briefing schedule on that motion. On that same day, the Seventh Circuit issued its decision in Meyers v. Nicolet Restaurant of De Pere, LLC, 843 F.3d 724 (7th Cir. 2016)-an analogous case under the FACTA that the Court will discuss in detail below. The following day Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case.

         Two days later, on December 16, 2016, Plaintiffs filed suit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, incorporating and expanding on their amended federal complaint and simultaneously moved for class certification. Defendant timely removed the action to federal court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. A few days later, Defendant moved to dismiss [10], arguing that Plaintiffs had not included sufficient facts in their complaint to plead that Defendant's alleged violation of the FACTA was willful. See [11]. Instead of addressing the merits of Defendant's motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs moved for remand on the ground that they lack Article III standing. Thus, the parties presently stand in the following, rather unusual position: Plaintiffs, who originally brought this dispute to federal court about a year ago, now insist that the case can only proceed in state court, while Defendant, which consistently has argued that this cannot proceed in federal court, resists Plaintiffs' effort to return the case to state court.

         II. Legal Standard

         “The federal removal statute permits a defendant to remove a civil action from state court when a district court has original jurisdiction over the action.” Micrometl Corp. v. Tranzact Techs., Inc., 656 F.3d 467, 470 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)). The party invoking federal jurisdiction has the burden of establishing that it exists. See Schimmer v. Jaguar Cars, Inc., 384 F.3d 402, 404 (7th Cir. 2004) (a removing defendant must demonstrate “reasonable probability that subject-matter jurisdiction exists”). In evaluating whether to remand a case, a plaintiff's choice of forum is presumed valid, and the Court must resolve any doubts about jurisdiction in favor of remand. See, e.g., Schur v. L.A. Weight Loss Centers, Inc., 577 F.3d 752, 758 (7th Cir. 2009); Doe v. Allied-Signal, Inc., 985 F.2d 908, 911 (7th Cir. 1993) (“Courts should interpret the removal statute narrowly and presume that the plaintiff may choose his or her forum”); Schmude v. Sheahan, 198 F.Supp.2d 964, 966 (N.D. Ill. 2002) (“Generally, the removal statute is strictly construed, with an eye towards limiting federal jurisdiction”).

         III. Analysis

         A. Standing

         Plaintiffs brought this lawsuit under Section 1681c(g)(1) of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”), which provides:

Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, 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 sale or transaction.

FACTA was a 2003 amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et. seq. As the Seventh Circuit explained in Meyers, “Congress enacted the FACTA in response to what it considered to be the increasing threat of identity theft.” 843 F.3d at 725. To that end, Congress specifically targeted two types of “potentially misappropriateable information produced in credit and debit card receipts”: (1) the digits of the card number and (2) the expiration date. Id. (quoting Meyers v. Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wis., 836 F.3d 818, 820 (7th Cir. 2016)). Yet, the statute was not meant to impose liability for trivial violations that resulted in no real harm to the “victim.” Rather, as Congress itself noted, it reflected a balancing act designed to simultaneously “ensure that consumers ...

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