Court Rules Wells Fargo Cannot Sue Lac du Flambeau

The United States’ Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that Wells Fargo cannot sue the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians for defaulting on a $50 million bond used to finance an out-of-state gaming project.

The agreement was never submitted to the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), so it cannot be enforced, reported Indianz.com. Wells Fargo had sued the Lake of the Torches Economic Development Corporation, the tribe’s corporate arm, on behalf of the bondholders.

“We conclude that the Indenture constitutes a management contract under IGRA and that, as a condition of its validity, it should have been submitted to the Chairman of the NIGC for approval prior to its implementation,” states the court ruling, reported Turtle Talk. Wells Fargo’s “failure to secure such approval renders the Indenture void in its entirety and thus invalidates the Corporation’s waiver of sovereign immunity.”

However, the court has said that Wells Fargo can submit other documents and information to potentially provide a waiver of the tribe’s immunity. The case can continue on remand—sent back to the trial court or lower appellate court for action.

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