Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit.
No. 2:19-cv-10001—Arthur J. Tarnow, District Judge.
Argued: February 6, 2020
Decided and Filed: December 21, 2020
Before: SUHRHEINRICH, DONALD, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
MURPHY, Circuit Judge. In recent decades the Supreme Court has cautioned courts not
to mistake a forfeitable claims-processing rule (such as a rule that a party assert a claim within a
specific time) for a nonforfeitable jurisdictional limit that deprives the court of the power to
adjudicate the claim. Fort Bend County v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 1843, 1848–50 (2019). Yet this
cautionary note must not be overread: It does not permit us to ignore a clear jurisdictional limit
that Congress has, in fact, imposed. Id. at 1850. And here, James Perna seeks to litigate a claim
that Congress has “clearly” deprived us of jurisdiction to entertain. Id. (citation omitted).
Perna worked for Health One Credit Union, a federally insured but state-chartered credit
union. A state regulator found that Health One had become financially unsound and appointed
the National Credit Union Administration Board, a federal entity, as Health One’s liquidator.
The Board terminated Perna’s employment. Perna has since sought damages in many ways,
from filing a complaint with a state agency, to asserting a claim with the Board, to conducting an
arbitration with an arbitration agency. In this suit, Perna seeks to modify the arbitration award
by making the Board liable on it. But the Federal Credit Union Act provides that “no court shall
have jurisdiction over” claims against covered credit unions asserted outside its exclusive
framework. 12 U.S.C. § 1787(b)(13)(D). The district court thus held that it lacked jurisdiction
over Perna’s suit. We agree, although we clarify that the court should have dismissed this suit
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, not granted summary judgment to the defendants.