On April 6, 2015, the United States Supreme Court denied reviewed of a petition filed by CashCall, Inc. asking it to review a decision by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denying arbitration. The plaintiff, Abraham Inetianbor, received a loan from Western Sky, a South Dakota company, which offered small loans at excessively high interest rates. Under the terms of the loan, Mr. Inetianbor was to repay the loan at an annual interest rate of 135%. Because Western Sky was owned by a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the loan agreement states that by signing it Mr. Inetianbor agreed to have any disputes resolved by arbitration before the Tribal Court. Arbitration is a way to resolve a dispute out of court. But there is no jury and most decisions by the arbitrator cannot be appealed.
In this case, the problem was the Tribe does not conduct arbitration and does not have any arbitration rules.
Mr. Inetianbor decided to sue CashCall, Inc, the company who took over the loan by Western Sky, because he had paid back the full amount of the money he borrowed plus some of the interest. CashCall insisted he pay back all of the interest owed, which was a lot of money because of the high interest rate. After Mr. Inetianbor filed the lawsuit in federal court in Florida, CashCall tried to have the case dismissed so that it could be arbitrated before the Tribal Court. As mentioned above, the problem was the Tribe did not conduct arbitration and there were no rules for the parties to follow.
The judge initially ordered that the case had to be arbitrated. But thanks to the efforts of Mr. Inetianbor, who, on his own, uncovered the fact that the Tribe does not the conduct arbitration, and the hard work by attorneys at Wallace & Graham who filed motions asking the court to reconsider its earlier decision, the federal judge ultimately ruled in plaintiff’s favor and concluded that arbitration was not possible.
CashCall appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Several attorneys at Wallace & Graham wrote the brief on Mr. Inetianbor’s behalf and attorney, John Hughes, argued the plaintiff’s position to the appellate court. The Court ruled in favor of Mr. Inetianbor. It concluded that because loan agreement required the Tribe to arbitrate using its consumer dispute rules and that these were important parts of the loan agreement, arbitration was unavailable. There was no way for the parties to comply with the terms of the loan agreement because the Tribe did not conduct arbitrations and it did not have any rules on arbitration. This was a huge victory for consumers because courts typically will order arbitration if the parties contract contains an arbitration clause.
CashCall then asked the United States Supreme Court to hear the case and decide whether the Eleventh Circuit was wrong in holding that arbitration was unavailable in this case. Mr. Inetianbor, through its attorneys at Wallace & Graham, filed a brief opposing the petition. Wallace & Graham argued that the Eleventh Circuit correctly held that arbitration was unavailable in this case and that Mr. Inetianbor should be allowed to pursue his claim in federal court.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Inetianbor by refusing to hear the case. As a result, the case was remanded back to the federal court in Florida for trial. This was another great victory for Mr. Inetianbor and Wallace & Graham, who has fought hard for the rights of consumers to have their cases heard in a court of law.
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