Finn v. Great Plains Lending, LLC, 060117 FED10, 16-6348

Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Judge Panel:Before TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, McKAY and LUCERO, Circuit Judges.
Opinion Judge:CARLOS F. LUCERO CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Party Name:KEITH FINN, Plaintiff - Appellant, v. GREAT PLAINS LENDING, LLC, Specially-Appearing Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:June 01, 2017
Docket Nº:16-6348
 
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KEITH FINN, Plaintiff - Appellant,

v.

GREAT PLAINS LENDING, LLC, Specially-Appearing Defendant-Appellee.

No. 16-6348

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

June 1, 2017

         D.C. No. 5:16-CV-00415-M, W.D. Okla.

          Before TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, McKAY and LUCERO, Circuit Judges.

          ORDER AND JUDGMENT [*]

          CARLOS F. LUCERO CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         The district court dismissed Keith Finn's lawsuit against Great Plains Lending, LLC, based on tribal sovereign immunity. Finn appeals, contending that the district court should have granted his request for limited discovery into matters relevant to immunity. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we vacate the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

          I

         Great Plains is a limited liability company formed by the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, a federally recognized tribe. Great Plains offers short-term loans at high interest rates. After the company made numerous automated calls to Finn's cell phone, he sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227.

         Great Plains filed a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), asserting that it was entitled to tribal sovereign immunity. Finn argued that sovereign immunity should not protect Great Plains because the company is actually controlled by and exists for the benefit of a non-tribal entity, Think Finance, Inc. He requested limited jurisdictional discovery to substantiate this claim. The district court dismissed based on tribal sovereign immunity and denied Finn's request for jurisdictional discovery. Finn appeals.

         II

         "As a matter of federal law, an Indian tribe is subject to suit only where Congress has authorized the suit or the tribe has waived its immunity." Kiowa Tribe of Okla. v. Mfg. Techs., Inc., 523 U.S. 751, 754 (1998). "Tribal immunity extends to subdivisions of a tribe, and even bars suits arising from a tribe's commercial activities." Native Am. Distrib. v. Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco Co., 546 F.3d 1288, 1292 (10th Cir. 2008); see also Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Cmty., 134 S.Ct. 2024, 2036-39 (2014) (declining to limit tribal immunity for off-reservation commercial activities). Tribal immunity is a jurisdictional issue. Bonnet v. Harvest (U.S.) Holdings, Inc., 741 F.3d 1155, 1158 (10th Cir. 2014).

         Finn appeals the district court's denial of his request...

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