Since the Supreme Court’s May 16, 2016 decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, Article III standing has continued to be a major focus in federal courts. The Sixth Circuit’s opinion in Primus Group, LLC v. Smith & Wesson Corp., et al., 2021 WL 423741 (6th Cir. Feb. 8, 2021), continued this focus.
In Primus Group, an entertainment venue filed a class action against eight firearms manufacturers. In the class action, Primus purported to represent “[a]ll persons entitled to freely attend schools, shopping locations, churches, entertainment venues, and workplaces in the United States without the intrusion of individuals armed with assault weapons.”
In granting the Defendants’ motion to dismiss, the district found “that Primus had not demonstrated injury in fact.” On appeal, the Sixth Circuit affirmed.
First, the Sixth Circuit held “Primus’s amended complaint speaks of no particularized injury.” The Court continued:
[T]he complaint supplies no facts to demonstrate that Primus is ”among those injured” by mass shootings; that gun violence affects Primus ”in a personal and individual way”; or that Primus has ”a direct stake in the outcome” of this suit.
Id. (internal citations omitted).
Second, and likely more important for future cases, the court held because “Primus brings this suit on behalf of all citizens, persons and inhabitants of the United States of America,” it did not satisfy Spokeo’s personal injury requirement.
While this case represents an extreme situation (a class of the entire United States), the lack of a “personal quality of a particularized injury” could prove to be an important argument for future class actions that purport to represent an expansive class. Corporate defendants should continue to utilize this argument for all class actions where any plaintiff’s injury is arguably the same as the general population.