Four years after initially denying a petition to hear arguments in a similar case, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a Fair Credit Reporting Act case that seeks to determine whether the federal government can be held liable for misreporting information to the credit reporting agencies.
In Department of Agriculture Rural Development Rural Housing Service v. Kirtz, Kirtz contends that the government furnished information to the credit reporting agencies that he was more than 120 days late on a student loan made to him by the federal government, even though Kirtz said he no longer owed anything on the loan. He disputed the account with one of the credit reporting agencies, but the alleged inaccuracy was not corrected. Kirtz filed suit in federal court, and the District Court judge dismissed the case after the Department of Agriculture argued that the FCRA did not clearly indicate that Congress had intended to waive the federal government’s immunity from lawsuits. Kirtz appealed the dismissal to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and it reversed the ruling. It looked at how the FCRA defined “person” to include “any government or governmental subdivision or agency” while also noting that Congress’s intent in enacting the FCRA was to ensure “fair and accurate credit reporting.”
Noting there was a split among the circuit courts of appeal as to whether the federal government was immune to these types of lawsuits, the government sought the Supreme Court’s help and it agreed to rule on the case. It will likely hear arguments in the Fall when its new session convenes, and issue a ruling sometime in the Spring of 2024.