This class-action proceeding relates to a lending scheme allegedly designed to circumvent state usury laws. Matt Martorello appeals from three district court rulings that (1) reconsidered prior factual findings based on a new finding that Martorello made misrepresentations that substantially impacted the litigation, (2) found that the plaintiffs- appellees—Virginia citizens who took out loans (the “Borrowers”)—did not waive their right to participate in a class-action suit against him, and (3) granted class certification. In particular, Martorello argues that the district court violated the mandate rule by making factual findings related to the misrepresentations that contradicted this Court’s holding in the prior appeal and then relying on those factual findings when granting class certification. He also contends that the Borrowers entered into enforceable loan agreements with lending entities in which they waived their right to bring class claims against him. In addition, he asserts that common issues do not predominate so as to permit class treatment in this case. As explained below, we disagree with Martorello. We conclude that the district court did not violate the mandate rule and that the Borrowers did not waive the right to pursue the resolution of their dispute against him in a class-action proceeding. Finally, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting class certification because common issues predominate. Accordingly, we affirm the rulings of the district court.
The Catawba Indian Nation recently announced the launch of a new kind of special economic zone (SEZ) on its reservation lands in the Carolinas piedmont region. The Catawba Digital Economic Zone (CDEZ) aims to provide “A Jurisdiction Built for the Fintech and Digital Asset Industry.” Federal and state law affirms that the Nation has original and exclusive jurisdiction over two categories of disputes: those arising from contracts to which the Nation or its members are a party and those arising under any civil code that the Nation issues for the conduct of businesses and individuals on its reservation. Together, these give the Nation sovereign authority over commerce, real or virtual, that takes place on Catawba lands. The Nation has invoked this power to create the CDEZ. The Catawba General Council, a democratic assembly of tribe members, recently enacted the a civil ordinance creating a legal framework specially designed to support e-banking, cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens, and other fintech and digital asset industries. This paper, written by one of a team of coders who worked on it, describes the origins, legal foundation, and basic structure of the CDEZ, the latest and most advanced example of a special jurisdiction focused on digital assets.