PHILADELPHIA – Plain Green LLC and former CEO Joel Rosette will not be required to testify in a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro against Think Finance LLC, according to an opinion issued Sept. 26 by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Think Finance subpoenaed Plain Green and Rosette, who asked the court to quash the subpoenas. According to the ruling, Plain Green is “a consumer lending business wholly owned and operated by the federally recognized Indian Tribe, Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation.”
The opinion said “while not a defendant in this matter, Plain Green is an entity of one of multiple Indian tribes used by Think Finance in connection with the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania’s allegations of illegal lending practices involving high-interest rate, short-term loans made to Pennsylvania residents over the Internet.”
In their motion asking the court to throw out the subpoenas or issue a protective order in their favor, Plain Green and Rosette said Plain Green should be immune from the subpoena because it is affiliated with the tribe, and Rosette should not have to testify because he worked with Plain Green in an “official capacity.”
U.S. District Judge J. Curtis Joyner philadelphiabar.org
In response, the court said Think Finance argued that “Plain Green’s waiver of immunity regarding contracts between the two parties should make their subpoenas for testimony enforceable,” and that Rosette should be ordered to comply with the subpoena because Think Finance is seeking his testimony as an individual and not as an agent of Plain Green or the tribe.
In addition, the ruling said Think Finance argues that its “need for information to develop a defense against the OAG’s allegations outweighs Plain Green’s need for sovereign autonomy and protection from discovery requests.”
Think Finance also said the motion to quash should not be granted because it was not filed in the proper jurisdiction, as the subpoena was issued in Montana, not Pennsylvania.
In his opinion, Judge J. Curtis Joyner said, “Plain Green and Rosette have not waived sovereign immunity in any legal proceeding beyond disputes between Plain Green and Think Finance relating to contract interpretation, arbitration of contract disputes or contract breach; none of which are at issue here.”
Joyner also ruled the motion to quash was filed in the proper venue because the case is being tried in the Eastern Pennsylvania court.