United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
KRYSTAL M. INGRAM PLAINTIFF
EXPERIAN INFORMATION SOLUTIONS, INC.; TRANS UNION, LLC; EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC; UNITED STUDENT AID FUNDS, INC.; NAVIENT SOLUTIONS, INC., fka SALLIE MAE, INC.; and UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DEFENDANTS
B. BIGGERS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
before the court is a motion to dismiss for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction filed by Defendant United States
Department of Education (“USDE”). Upon due
consideration of the motion, response, and applicable
authority, the court is ready to rule.
and Procedural Background
motion to dismiss stage, the court takes the factual
allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true. The
plaintiff, Krystal Ingram, is a victim of identity theft.
Without her knowledge or consent, the thief obtained multiple
student loans in Ingram's name and later failed to make
provider for one of the aforementioned loans, reported the
derogatory payment history to the consumer reporting agencies
(“CRAs”), Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.
Consequently, Ingram's credit report reflected the loan
debt, causing her credit rating to take a significant hit. As
a result, she suffered “multiple adverse actions and
denials of credit.” Ingram disputed the fraudulent loan
debt to the CRAs on multiple occasions and requested that the
debt be deleted from her credit reports. The CRAs then
forwarded Ingram's disputes to the furnishers of
information, including USDE. Ingram's efforts to resolve
the issue, however, proved unsuccessful.
subsequently filed the instant suit against the CRAs and
furnishers of information for alleged violations under the
Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C.
§1681 et seq.. Defendant USDE filed the instant
motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.
filed under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure allow a party to challenge the subject matter
jurisdiction of the court to hear a case.” Ramming
v. U.S., 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). The burden
of proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is on the
party asserting jurisdiction. Id.
“Accordingly, the plaintiff constantly bears the burden
of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist.”
Id. The court may properly dismiss a claim for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction if it determines that it lacks
either the statutory or constitutional authority to
adjudicate the claim. Home Builders Ass'n, Inc. v.
City of Madison, Miss., 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir.
contends that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
because the FCRA contains no clear and unambiguous waiver of
the United States' sovereign immunity. USDE additionally
argues that Ingram failed to exhaust her administrative
remedies. Sovereign Immunity “It is axiomatic
that the United States may not be sued without its consent
and that the existence of consent is a prerequisite for
jurisdiction.” United States v. Mitchell, 463
U.S. 206, 212 (1983). The United States may waive its
sovereign immunity by statute but such a waiver “must
be unequivocally expressed in statutory text.” Lane
v. Pena, 518 U.S. 187, 192 (1996).
Government's consent to be sued must be construed
strictly in favor of the sovereign, and not enlarged beyond
what the statute requires.” United States v. Nordic
Vill. Inc., 503 U.S. 30, 34 (1992)(citations omitted).
Thus, a waiver of immunity cannot be implied and any
ambiguities are to be resolved in the United States'
FCRA defines “person” to include “any . . .
government or governmental subdivision or agency.” 15
U.S.C. §1681a(b). The statute imposes duties upon
furnishers of information, like USDE, by requiring “the
person that provided the information in dispute . .
. [to] conduct an investigation . . . [and] review all
relevant information provided . . . .” 15 U.S.C.
§1681s-2(a)(8)(E)(emphasis added). The FCRA further
provides that “any person” who either
willfully or negligently fails to comply “with any
requirement under this subchapter with respect to any
consumer” may be held liable for monetary damages.
See 15 U.S.C. §1681n; 15 U.S.C. §1681o
asserts that the FCRA's definition of
“person” contains an unequivocal waiver of
sovereign immunity. Neither the Supreme Court nor the Fifth
Circuit has determined whether the FCRA waives sovereign
immunity. See United States v. Bormes, 133 S.Ct. 12,
20 (2012) (“We do not decide whether FCRA itself waives
the Federal Government's immunity to damages.”);
Bormes v. United States, 759 F.3d 793, 795 (7th Cir.
2014) (“As far as we can tell, this is the First
appellate decision on the issue.”).
court begins by noting that the only circuit court to have
addressed the issue has found that the FCRA does contain an
unequivocal waiver of the United States' sovereign
immunity. See Bormes, 759 F.3d 793. In
Bormes, the Seventh Circuit began by looking to the
FCRA's definition of “person” and the
remedial provisions subjecting any “person” to
civil liability for any statutory violations. Id. at
795. The court went on to reason that “[t]he United
States is a government, ...