(CN) – The government might have to pay attorneys for allegedly violating federal law by printing the expiration date of their credit cards on a web page confirming payment of e-filing fees, the Federal Circuit ruled.
Attorney James Bormes used his credit card to pay the e-filing fee for a lawsuit he filed on behalf of one of his clients. The transaction was processed by the government’s pay.gov system, which sent him a confirmation web page allegedly containing his credit card’s expiration date.
Bormes filed a class action against the government, claiming the government’s printing of credit card expiration dates violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
A federal judge granted the government’s motion to dismiss, explaining that the FCRA did not waive the government’s sovereign immunity.
On appeal, the government urged the Federal Circuit to revive the case and transfer it to the 7th Circuit in Chicago, but the appeals court ruled that the judge in Washington, D.C., had jurisdiction.
As the case was pending, the 7th Circuit ruled in another case that a jurisdictional provision called the Little Tucker Act waives sovereign immunity for FCRA claims.
“Because the Little Tucker Act operates to waive sovereign immunity, the district court erred in dismissing Bormes’ case without considering whether the Little Tucker Act provided an alternative basis for jurisdiction,” Chief Judge Randall Rader wrote.
Rader concluded that the FCRA “is a money-mandating statute” that supports federal jurisdiction.
The federal appeals court reinstated the case and sent it back to the lower court for further review.