October 2, 2012
Respondent James Bormes used the U.S. government’s online pay system to pay for a lawsuit that he had filed electronically. Following the transaction, the website displayed the last four digits of his credit card and the card’s expiration date. Bormes then sued the government, alleging that it had violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") by displaying the expiration date. The United States argued that it had sovereign immunity with respect to claims under the FCRA because the Act did not explicitly apply to the U.S. government. When Bormes countered that he could sue the government under the Little Tucker Act, which provides a remedy for those with claims against the government of less than $10,000, the government contended that the Little Tucker Act applied only in situations where parties could not otherwise recover. In deciding this case, the Supreme Court must first determine the scope of the Tucker Acts' waiver of the United States’ sovereign immunity regarding claims brought under the Little Tucker Act for suits based on violations of the FCRA. As the country’s largest employer, creditor, and lender, the U.S. government could see a massive increase in litigation and potential liability as a result of this decision. Additionally, the Supreme Court may address how explicit Congress must act in order to exempt the federal government from liability.
Whether the Little Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346(a)(2), waives the sovereign immunity of the United States with respect to damages actions for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.
Whether the Little Tucker Act enables plaintiffs to sue the United States for damages arising from violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.