SHLAHTICHMAN v. 1-800 CONTACTS (AUGUST 10, 2010)

In June of 2009, Eduard Shlahtichman purchased contact lenses from defendant 1-800 Contacts using the Internet. Shlahtichman used his credit card for the purchase. The company sent him an e-mail confirming his purchase. The e-mail contained the expiration date of his credit card. Shlahtichman brought suit pursuant to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 ("FACTA"). FACTA prohibits a merchant from "print[ing]" a credit card expiration date on a receipt "provided to the cardholder at the point of the sale." That restriction applies only to electronically printed receipts. Judge Darrah (N.D. Ill.) dismissed the suit on two grounds: that an e-mail order confirmation does not constitute printing and that an e-mail order confirmation is not provided "at the point of the sale." Shlahtichman appeals.

In their opinion, Judges Bauer, Rovner, and Hamilton affirmed. Much of the appeal centers on the meaning of the word "print." Since it is not defined in the statute, the Court looked to its ordinary meaning. Although recognizing that a minority of courts have extended its meaning to computer displayed receipts, the Court concluded that the Act applies only to paper receipts. It relied on dictionary definitions, the overall context and content of the Act, the ready application of such an approach to face-to-face transactions versus a host of questions in the computer context, Congress' determination of the effective date of the Act using the year the printing device was first put into use, and the lack of any reference to Internet or e-mail in the Act in light of Congress' many such references in other statutes. Alternatively, the Court noted that dismissal was proper because Shlahtichman alleged no actual injury, statutory damages are available only for willful violations, and 1-800 Contacts' interpretation of the statute was reasonable, even if wrong, and could not support a finding of willfulness.