Oneida Nation can't be sued under federal credit reporting law

An Oneida Nation building in Wisconsin. Photo from Facebook

The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin can't be sued for allegedly violating the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, a federal appeals court ruled last week.

The tribe has not waived its sovereign immunity and Congress did not abrogate the tribe's immunity through FACTA, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on September 8. The decision from the three-judge panel was unanimous.

"Congress has demonstrated that it knows how to unequivocally abrogate immunity for Indian tribes. It did not do so in FACTA," Judge Illana Rovner wrote in the 18-page decision.

The dispute arose after Jeremy Meyers used his credit card at two tribally-owned businesses. The receipt printed more than five digits of his card and even included the expiration date, according to the court' s decision.

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Oral arguments in Meyers v. Oneida Indian Tribe of Wisconsin

FACTA was written to prevent that kind of sensitive information from being printed by any "person." In the law, Congress defines "person" as "any individual, partnership, corporation, trust, estate, cooperative, association, government or governmental subdivision or agency, or other entity."

Even though tribes are not mentioned anywhere in the law, Meyers argued that the definition of "person" includes tribes. The 7th Circuit was not moved.

"Perhaps if Congress were writing on a blank slate, this argument would have more teeth, but Congress has demonstrated that it knows full well how to abrogate tribal immunity," Rovner wrote.

Meyers also argued that tribes should be treated under the law as a "government" like any other government. Rovner shot down that as well.

"Meyers has lost sight of the real question in this sovereign immunity case— whether an Indian tribe can claim immunity from suit," the decision stated. "The answer to this question must be 'yes' unless Congress has told us in no uncertain terms that it is 'no.'"

Turtle Talk has posted briefs from the case, Meyers v. Oneida Indian Tribe of Wisconsin.

Read More on the Story:
Tribe Immune from Lawsuit Alleging Violations of Credit Card Transaction Law (WisBar News 9/13)

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Meyers v. Oneida Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (September 8, 2016)

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