Cunningham v. Lester, No. 20-1086 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a complaint against federal employees in their individual capacities, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), based on sovereign immunity grounds.
The court concluded that the Supreme Court's decision in Lewis v. Clarke, 137 S. Ct. 1285 (2017), does not purport to break from the Court's substantive approach to its real-party-in-interest jurisprudence, and plaintiff supplies the court with no compelling reason to extract any contrary holding. The court explained that the statutory mandate at the center of this case is the requirement that CMS "establish a system" for ensuring that applicants "receive notice of eligibility for an applicable State health subsidy program." The court concluded that, unlike the defendant in Lewis, defendants, as CMS employees, were plainly acting in furtherance of this federal mandate when they signed the contract with GDIT and instructed GDIT to place its automated calls. Therefore, defendants were acting in the course of their official duties and the United States is the real party in interest.