Lac Vieux Desert Band won decision affecting car title loan firm

The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians established the business known as Sovereign Lending Solutions by a resolution in July 2011. Image from LDV

The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Michigan operated a car title loan company that was the subject of complaints.

Sovereign Lending Solutions charged interest rates that wouldn't otherwise be allowed under state law. But the tribe shut down the operation last September, according to a notice on its website.

The closure, though, didn't stop a federal judge from ruling on a lawsuit filed by a customer. The company enjoys sovereign immunity just like the tribe, Judge Gerald Pappert wrote in a decision in May.

"Indian tribes enjoy sovereign immunity unless that immunity has been clearly waived by the tribe of unequivocally abrogated by Congress," Pappert wrote. "This immunity extends to a tribe's subordinate economic entities and to tribal officials who are acting in their official capacity and within the scope of their authority."

By that time, the tribe already transferred the assets of the company to Car Loan LLC, based in the Cook Islands. According to The Detroit News, the firm has continued to offer services to customers in the U.S.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Bynon v. Mansfield.

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Unlicensed title lenders defy state laws (The Detroit News 9/29)

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