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The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
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Law Article: FTC asserts jurisdiction over tribal Internet lenders

Filed Under: Business | Law
More on: ftc, immunity, internet, payday loans
     

Attorneys discuss lawsuit in which the Federal Trade Commission won a decision to assert authority over Internet lenders owned by tribal governments:
n 2012, the FTC filed a complaint against multiple defendants accusing them of violating the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Truth in Lending Act and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Specifically, the agency alleged the defendants engaged in unfair and deceptive practices by offering and extending “high-fee, short-term ‘payday’ loans and the collection of those loans.”

The court bifurcated the case and said it would first determine whether—and to what extent—the FTC has authority over the parties asserting Indian tribe sovereignty. The defendants argued that, because they were arms of an Indian tribe, employees of an arm of an Indian tribe or businesses associated with arms of an Indian tribe, the FTC lacked the authority to regulate them.

But U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro, affirming a report and recommendation of a magistrate judge, disagreed.

“[T]he FTC Act is a federal statute of general applicability that under controlling Ninth Circuit precedent grants the FTC authority to regulate arms of Indian tribes, their employees, and their contractors,” she concluded.

Judge Navarro shot down three lines of argument from the defendants. First, the burden of establishing whether the defendants fell within the FTC’s jurisdiction to enforce the FTC Act fell on the charged parties, she wrote, not the agency, because of their attempt to claim an exemption from the act.

Get the Story:
John W. McGuinness, Craig D. Miller, Barbara S. Polsky, Harold P. Reichwald, Barrie VanBrackle and Carol R. Van Cleef: Court FTC can regulate payday lenders affiliated with Indian tribes (Lexology 4/10)
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Related Stories:
Blog: Internet lenders can longer hide behind tribal immunity (4/11)
Indian-owned online lender enters settlement with Connecticut (4/10)
Judge sides with FTC in lawsuit against tribal Internet lenders (03/20)
Internet lenders in Indian Country under scrutiny in 21 states (3/19)
Law Article: Tribal lenders win a partial victory in FTC litigation (3/13)
FTC files lawsuit against tribal-affiliated payday lending firms (4/2)


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