Important Montana 1 Decision in Federal Trade Commission Suit against On-Rez Payday Lenders

Here are the materials in FTC v. Payday Financial LLC (D. S.D.):

DCt Order Denying Defendants’ Motion

Defendants’ Motion for Partial Summary J

FTC Opposition

Defendants’ Reply

From the opinion:

The pending motion for partial summary judgment presents the issue of tribal court jurisdiction over non-Indians who contract with a company doing business from an Indian reservation. The “pathmarking” case on tribal authority over nonmembers is Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544 (1981). See Strate v. A-I Contractors, 520 U.S. 438, 445 (1997) (describing Montana as “pathmarking” and applying Montana to evaluate tribal court jurisdiction authority over non-Indians.) In Montana, the Supreme Court recognized two areas in which  Indian tribes have sovereign power to exercise authority over nonmembers on their reservation. The first such “Montana exception” recognizes tribal authority over “the activities of nonmembers who enter consensual relationships with a tribe or its members, through commercial dealing, contracts, leases, or other arrangements.”Montana, 450 U.S. at 565. The precise question presented in this case is one of first impression: When a company conducting  business from an Indian reservation enters into a commercial contract with a non-Indian, is it an unfair and deceptive practice for the company to include forum selection and consent to tribal jurisdiction provisions in [2] the contract and to then expect to litigate any alleged breach of contract claim against the non-Indian in tribal court? This Court determines that, under the circumstances of this case and on the sole issue currently before this Court, such contract provisions are not unfair and deceptive when the non-Indian has entered into “consensual relationships [with tribal] members” with a sufficient connection to on-reservation activities to make the consent to jurisdiction and forum selection provisions enforceable under the first Montana exception. See Montana, 450 U.S. at 565. However, in this case, two open issues prompt this Court to deny Defendants’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment: (1) This Court’s record lacks information establishing that the Defendants are in fact “members” of the tribe for purposes of the first Montana exception; and (2) an ambiguity in the contract exists as to under what circumstances the non-Indian is consenting to tribal court jurisdiction in addition to binding arbitration.

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research, tribal courts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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