U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Consumer Protection – FCRA — sovereign immunity
Congress has waived the federal government’s immunity to suit under the FCRA.
“The FCRA says that courts may award punitive damages for willful violations. 15 U.S.C. §1681n(a)(2). According to the government, this shows that §1681n can’t apply to it, no matter what §1681a(b) says, for there is a tradition that the United States is not subject to punitive damages. (The Federal Tort Claims Act, for example, forbids them. 28 U.S.C. §2674 ¶1.) A tradition differs from a rule of law, however. Congress can authorize punitive awards against the United States. If the interaction of §1681a(b) and §1681n(a)(2) creates excessive liability — which it won’t if federal officers obey the statute — then the solution is an amendment, not judicial rewriting of a pellucid definitional clause. See, e.g., Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, 134 S. Ct. 2024, 2033–34 (2014).”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Norgle, J., Easterbrook, J.