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Ford Motor Credit Company and v. Raymond Poitra

March 2, 2011

FORD MOTOR CREDIT COMPANY AND FORD MOTOR COMPANY, PLAINTIFFS AND
COUNTER DEFENDANTS,
v.
RAYMOND POITRA, DEFENDANT AND COUNTER CLAIMANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Daniel L. Hovland, District Judge United States District Court

ORDER DENYING THE PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

Before the Court is the Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment filed on January 6, 2011. See Docket No. 9. The Defendant filed a response in opposition to the motion and a "Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction" on January 19, 2011. See Docket Nos. 11 and 13. The Plaintiffs filed a reply brief and a response in opposition to the Defendant's motion to dismiss on February 1, 2011. See Docket Nos. 15 and 16. For the reasons stated below, the Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and the Defendant's motion to dismiss are denied.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 20, 2000, Raymond Poitra purchased a 1999 Lincoln Navigator from Eide Ford Lincoln Mercury, Inc. ("Eide Ford"). See Docket No. 1-1. Eide Ford is located in Bismarck, North Dakota, and at the time of the purchase Poitra lived in Belcourt, North Dakota. See Docket No. 1-1. The "North Dakota Simple Interest Vehicle Retail Installment Contract" ("the contract") used to execute the sale does not state the location of the sale.*fn1 The plaintiffs, Ford Motor Credit Company and Ford Motor Company (collectively "Ford") financed the sale. Poitra agreed to pay Ford sixty (60) payments of $627.24 commencing on January 29, 2001. See Docket No. 1-1.

On July 7, 2004, Ford Motor Credit Company obtained a default judgment from the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court. See Docket No. 1-2. The Turtle Mountain Tribal Court found Poitra to be in default of the contract and that Ford Motor Credit Company was entitled to repossess and sell the Lincoln Navigator.

On June 15, 2007, Poitra filed a lawsuit against Ford in the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court. See Docket No. 1-3. In the complaint, Poitra asserts that Ford failed to execute the default judgment it obtained in 2004. Poitra contends further, "As a result, the vehicle fell into disrepair as unknown persons were driving the vehicle without properly servicing said vehicle for a short time." See Docket No. 1-3. In the complaint, Poitra seeks a judgment that Ford must rescind any and all negative credit reports, pay damages in the amount of $9,583.20 for rent/storage, costs, and attorney's fees. In an unwritten order, a tribal judge found that the tribal court had jurisdiction over Poitra's claim. Ford appealed this decision to the Turtle Mountain Appellate Court.

The Turtle Mountain Tribal Court of Appeals affirmed the tribal court's finding on February 22, 2010. See Docket No. 1-4. The appellate court held, "The cause of action commenced by Poitra is directly related to the lawsuit Ford brought to repossess the Lincoln Navigator because Poitra has been potentially harmed by Ford's failure to repossess in a timely manner." See Docket No. 1-4. The Turtle Mountain Court of Appeals explained further, "A non-Indian cannot utilize a tribal forum to gain relief against a tribal member and then attempt to avoid that jurisdiction when it acts negligently in that same action resulting in potential harm to the tribal member." See Docket No. 1-4.

On May 28, 2010, Ford filed a "Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Judgment" in federal court. See Docket No. 1. Ford seeks a judgment granting the following relief:

1) Declaring that the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court has no personal and/or subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs in regard to the cause of action brought by Defendant in Tribal Court.

2) Granting a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining any further proceedings by Defendant against Plaintiffs in Tribal Court.

3) For a determination of the Defendant's obligation under the terms of the Installment Agreement, if any, to Plaintiffs.

4) For an order instructing Raymond Poitra to provide information to Ford Motor as to the location of the colleratral [sic] and granting them access to repossess the vehicle.

5) For such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

See Docket No. 1. On August 6, 2010, Poitra filed an answer and a counterclaim for ...


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