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Supreme Court to rule on federal liability for credit card information leak

The US Supreme Court [official website] granted certiorari [order list, PDF] Friday in US v. Bormes [docket; cert. petition, PDF] to determine whether the federal government has sovereign immunity for damages arising from the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) [text, PDF]. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in 2010 that the Little Tucker Act [Cornell LII backgrounder] waived sovereign immunity [opinion] for money claims against the US under the FCRA. Lawyer James Bormes filed the class action lawsuit after realizing that portions of his and others' private credit card information displayed on a government website following payment of federal court fees. Bormes claims that the disclosure of private credit card information violates the FCRA and is seeking damages against the government on behalf of the class.

The court agreed Friday to rule in Kloeckner v. Solis [docket; cert. petition, PDF] to determine appellate jurisdiction in wrongful termination and discrimination cases for federal employees. The court will determine whether a party may appeal a case involving both wrongful termination and discrimination claims to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or a district court, when the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) [official website], which hears cases involving federal employees, decides the case without determining the merits of a discrimination claim. The confusion arises from provisions in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 [text] that place cases involving discrimination in district courts. The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] last year that because the MSPB did not address the merits of the employee's discrimination claim, the Federal Circuit had jurisdiction over the appeal.

The court also agreed to rule in Cavazos v. Williams [docket; cert. petition, PDF] to determine whether a petitioner's habeas corpus [LII backgrounder] claim has been properly decided on its merits when a state court denies the claim without acknowledging a federal law basis for the claim in its opinion. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled last year that Tara Williams' imprisonment was unconstitutional [opinion, PDF] because the court did not adjudicate the case on its merits when it failed to consider Williams' Sixth Amendment [text] claim. Williams was sentenced to life in prison without parole on murder charges after the trial court dismissed a known holdout juror.

On Tuesday, the court granted [order list, PDF] the addition of two parties in three separate cases concerning healthcare reform law: Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, and Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services [dockets]. The new parties are small business owners who oppose the federal individual insurance mandate and their addition will avoid a possible standing dispute [motion, PDF] since the original small business owner in the case recently filed for bankruptcy. The court granted certiorari [JURIST report] in the cases in November to determine the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder]. All three cases arose out of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which ruled in August that the individual insurance mandate is unconstitutional but severable [JURIST report], upholding the rest of the law.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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