09 February 2013

SCOTUS in Plain English: United States v. Bormes

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe Supreme Court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case at SCOTUblog below. For similar posts, click here.

United States v. Bormes

James Bormes sued the United States under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), claiming that a receipt they provided to him revealed too much information about his credit card. Bormes brought his case in federal court under the Little Tucker Act, which authorizes claims against the government under $10,000. The Supreme Court found that the Little Tucker Act does not waive the government's sovereign immunity (sovereign immunity provides that the government cannot be sued unless that immunity has been waived, or if the government consents). The FCRA specified its own procedures for making claims, and the courts should consider whether the FCRA itself (not the Little Tucker Act) waives the government's sovereign immunity. As a result, Bormes's suit will be transferred to the 7th Circuit on that issue. The practical impact of this decision is those alleging violations by the United Staes cannot use the Little Tucker Act to get their claims into federal court.
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