The Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear arguments in a Fair Credit Reporting Act case in which the plaintiff sued the federal government and three credit bureaus because they did not properly investigate his claims of identity theft, refusing to rectify a split at the Circuit Court level on the issue.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Robinson v. Department of Education can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff unsuccessfully tried to have a fraudulent student loan removed from his credit report. The plaintiff disputed the items to the credit bureaus, but the items were never removed from his credit report. He subsequently fled suit against the Department of Education, which administers the student loan program in question, and the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. A District Court granted a motion to dismiss filed by the Dept. of Education for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, based on a claim of sovereign immunity. The plaintiff appealed the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with the defendant as well.
While the Fourth and Ninth Circuits have each ruled that the federal government can not be sued under the FCRA, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the government can be sued under that statute, which buoyed the petitioner’s arguments for the Supreme Court to take the case.
But in a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court voted not to hear arguments. Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh were the two dissenting votes, and used the size of the government’s student lending operation as a reason why the Supreme Court should step in.
“These ramifications are magnified here because the Federal Government’s potential liability under the FCRA is substantial,” Justice Thomas wrote in the dissent. “As the Nation’s primary student-loan lender, it is one of the largest furnishers of credit information in the country.”