Facts of the Case
- This case arises out of a sovereign Indian Nation’s efforts to achieve political self-determination and economic self-sufficiency and provide its citizens with employment, critical programs, services, and infrastructure, including housing assistance and education.
- The CFPB targeted four arms of the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake (“HPUL” or “Tribe”) that provide consumer loans over the internet pursuant to the laws of the Tribe.
- Those arms of the tribe, GOLDEN VALLEY LENDING, INC., SILVER CLOUD FINANCIAL, INC., MOUNTAIN SUMMIT FINANCIAL, INC., AND MAJESTIC LAKE FINANCIAL, INC., are incorporated under tribal law, owned and operated by the Tribe, and directed and controlled from tribal land.
- The Tribe’s lending businesses do not offer payday loans. They provide consumers with unsecured, short-term, small-dollar-amount installment loans that help them meet immediate financial needs.
- The Tribe has enacted a financial services ordinance and has created a regulatory commission to oversee its lending businesses and protect consumers.
- The Bureau initially filed its lawsuit in Illinois, but the Tribe’s arms successfully moved to transfer the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas because the Bureau’s claims had no connection to Illinois.
- After the case was transferred, the Tribe’s arms moved to dismiss the case on several grounds, including that the CFPB’s complaint ignored federal law, which requires the Bureau to treat tribes, like states, as co-regulators; pressed legal theories the Bureau had no authority to bring; disregarded several key precepts of federal Indian law; and ignored that the loans at issue are subject to tribal law. The motion also explained in depth that the Tribe’s economic development efforts are an essential part of its efforts to obtain political self-determination and economic self-sufficiency.
- Five parties filed amicus briefs in support of the motion to dismiss—the Tribe’s Consumer Financial Services Regulatory Commission; the State of Oklahoma; the State of New Mexico (whose laws the CFPB was purporting to enforce through its complaint); the National Congress of American Indians; and the Native American Financial Services Association.
- On January 18, 2018, the Bureau announced it was dismissing the case.