Lac du Flambeau Tribal lenders are attempting to have a federal class action lawsuit dismissed against several members in what’s been accused as a scam of interest rates.
The federal lawsuit
Lac du Flambeau (LdF) Business Development Corporation (BDC) owns LdF Holdings, which creates and services high interest payday or installment loans nationwide — including Radiant Cash. According to the complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, LDFBDC issued a loan to the plaintiff, Isiah Jones of Pennsylvania.
Jones, who brought forth the suit for he and “other citizens of Pennsylvania,” alleges the loan — such as the $600 Jones took out — violated the Pennsylvania Loan Interest and Protection Law (LIPL) and violates federal racketeering laws. His lawsuit names Joseph Wildcat Sr., president of the Lac du Flambeau Tribe of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Lac du Flambeau Tribe of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, as well as 11 BDC board members and LdF Holdings employees specifically.
Jones and the suit allege those who received such LdF loans have so at an interest rate at or more than 12% per annum, which is not licensed in their state.
Jones wants damages awarded from the Tribe, BDC and LdF Holdings debt, not those 11 individuals, the motion argues.
Motion to dismiss
In the motion to dismiss, Attorney Shannon Miller of Maurice Wutscher, LLP in Pennsylvania, who is representing the 11 local defendants, argues the complaint does not hold merit.
“(The) plaintiff’s entire complaint must be dismissed for at least three independent reasons,” Miller states via the motion.
Those reasons cite that Jones has not established that “… the defendants are liable,” as opposed to Radiant Cash, therefore he lacks a credible claim for relief against the named defendants. Second, Indian tribes and their tribally-created entities are entitled to immunity from suit, the motion indicates. Lastly, defense claims the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the 11 defendants because Jones has not stated they are from Radiant Cash.
“(The) plaintiff’s complaint should be dismissed, first, because (the) plaintiff’s allegations against (the) defendants are insufficient,” the motion reads. “The allegations against (the) defendants are insufficient because, even assuming (for the sake of argument) that Pennsylvania law applies to the loan agreement, which defendants dispute, they are conclusory and speculative.”
“The plaintiff’s claims in this case are in essence against the Tribe … Because the remedy sought is truly against the Tribe, this case should be dismissed with prejudice based on tribal sovereign immunity from suit. Similarly, the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim against defendants and for lack of personal jurisdiction because defendants do not have sufficient minimum contacts with Pennsylvania; they personally did not enter into the loan agreement with plaintiff; and, they personally did not collect any payments from plaintiff,” Miller relays.
The motion asks that the complaint be dismissed in its entirety with prejudice.
In a separate motion, the defendants seek to have Joseph Wildcat, Sr., dismissed from the case specifically.
Jones is said to have been “short on cash and in need of a small loan for personal, household and family related expenses” in late 2017. Lacking acceptable credit, Jones reportedly could not find a loan from a conventional lender and went online to Radiant Cash. There, he was approved. Radiant charged Jones interest on the loan at 690 annual percentage rate. Jones signed the agreement from his computer.
For several months, Radiant is said to have taken at least 10 withdrawals from Jones’ account totaling about $1,102. Jones then refused further withdrawal authorizations and Radiant found Jones in default.
Jones claims he suffered an injury — specifically about $600 in unlawful interest he “did not legally owe.” The other class members also suffered matters, it is indicated. Requested for relief are awards at three times the debt collected from Jones plus attorney fees and costs.
There are four other attorneys in the case for the defense.