Sovereign Immunity — FDCPA

Can the federal government be sued under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for its efforts to collect student loans? Deciding this issue of first impression, the Fifth Circuit ruled negatively in Wagstaff v. U.S. Dep’t of Educ., 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 28001 (Dec. 4, 2007), reasoning that the FDCPA lacks the prerequisite — a statutory provision “unequivocally and expressly waiving the Federal Government’s sovereign immunity” — and rejecting that the plaintiff’s argument that the DOE had waived the defense in conversations with her (“only Congress can waive an executive agency’s sovereign immunity”).

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