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US Supreme Court split over government liability for credit report errors

The United States Supreme Court building is seen as in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights
WASHINGTON, Nov 6 (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday appeared divided over whether the federal government can be sued over errors related to consumer credit reports as they considered a case involving a Pennsylvania man who accused an Agriculture Department agency of making mistakes that hurt his credit status.
The justices heard arguments in an appeal by President Joe Biden’s administration of a lower court’s ruling that a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity does not shield the U.S. government from liability in lawsuits concerning credit reporting inaccuracies.
The administration is seeking to block plaintiff Reginald Kirtz’s lawsuit against the Rural Housing Service, an agency that furnishes loans to help lower-income Americans get housing in rural regions. Kirtz brought the suit seeking monetary damages under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a 1970 law intended to ensure fair and accurate credit reporting.
Questions posed by the justices indicated they were split over the matter.
Kirtz has said his loans were repaid in full, but that the government lender and a separate private lender continued to wrongly report that his accounts were past due even after he complained about the discrepancies. These false reports were then passed along to the credit reporting agency TransUnion and damaged Kirtz’s creditworthiness, according to Kirtz.
Biden’s administration argued that the suit should be dismissed under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which generally shields the U.S. government from liability except in instances in which it has been waived by law. At issue is whether Congress waived sovereign immunity in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The original 1970 version of the law allowed credit bureaus to be sued over inaccuracies but not the government. Congress in 1996 expanded the law to permit lawsuits against



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