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United States v. Warfield

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 30, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JULIE WARFIELD, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF #17) AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #13)

MATTHEW F. LEITMAN, District Judge.

Between 1985 and 1990, Defendant Julie Warfield ("Warfield") borrowed $34, 400 through federally-guaranteed student loan programs. Thereafter, Warfield fell on hard times, and she defaulted on the loans. The United States of America ("Plaintiff") now seeks a judgment against Warfield. Warfield has not presented a valid defense to this action, nor has she established any genuine material fact as to whether Plaintiff is entitled to a judgment. Accordingly, the Court DENIES Warfield's Motion to Dismiss (ECF #17) and GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF #13).

RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Between 1985 and 1990, Warfield obtained six loans totaling $34, 400 (collectively, the "Loans") from the Michigan Direct Student Loan Program and Wachovia Student Services, Inc. ( See the "Certificates of Indebtedness, " ECF #1 at 4-5.) Warfield executed promissory notes securing each of the Loans. ( See the "Notes, " id. at 6-17.) The Loans were guaranteed by the Michigan Higher Education Assistance Authority (the "MHEAA") and reinsured by the United States Department of Education (the "Department of Education"). ( See Certificates of Indebtedness.)

Warfield defaulted on the Loans on August 8, 1991, when she failed to make payments due under the Notes. ( See Certificates of Indebtedness.) After the MHEAA unsuccessfully attempted to collect the full amount due from Warfield, the MHEAA assigned title to the Loans to the Department of Education. ( See id. ) Plaintiff then filed this action against Warfield seeking payment of $96, 809.87, representing the unpaid principal balance of the Loans and interest due under the Notes. Plaintiff has now moved for summary judgment. ( See the "Motion for Summary Judgment, " ECF #13.)

Warfield, acting pro se, opposes Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and has filed a Motion to Dismiss. ( See the "Motion to Dismiss, " ECF #17.) Warfield asserts that her husband, John, began suffering from a serious mental illness in the late 1980s. ( See the "Statement of Defense, " ECF #6-1 at 1, Pg. ID 35.) Warfield further states that she serves as John's full-time caregiver and has not been employed for more than 12 years. ( See id. at 1-2, Pg. ID 35-36.) The Warfields' sole source of income appears to be John's Social Security disability benefits. ( See the "Financial Disclosure Statement, " ECF #37-1.)

Warfield admits that she obtained the Loans and executed the Notes. ( See Statement of Defense at 1, Pg. ID 35.) Warfield further asserts that she "has never refused to make payment if the ability to do so existed." ( Id. ) Warfield maintains, however, that she is financially unable to repay the Loans, and she asserts a number of reasons why, in her view, the Court should deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and dismiss this action. The Court deems this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b); E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(f)(2).

GOVERNING LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Warfield's Motion to Dismiss

Rule 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of a complaint when a plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when a plaintiff pleads factual content that permits a court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). When assessing the sufficiency of a plaintiff's claim, a district court "must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept all factual allegations [of the plaintiff] as true, and determine whether the plaintiff undoubtedly can prove no set of facts in support of his claims that would entitle him to relief." Z Tech. Corp. v. Lubrizol Corp., 753 F.3d 594, 597 (6th Cir. 2014). A motion to dismiss will be granted only if "the alleged facts do not set forth an adequate claim or if the face of the complaint demonstrates that relief is barred by an affirmative defense." Riverview Health Inst. LLC v. Med. Mut. of Ohio, 601 F.3d 505, 512 (6th Cir. 2010).

B. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment

A movant is entitled to summary judgment when it "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact...." U.S. SEC v. Sierra Brokerage Services, Inc., 712 F.3d 321, 326-27 (6th Cir. 2013) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)) (quotations omitted). When reviewing the record, "the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor." Id. "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for [that party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. Summary judgment is not appropriate when "the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury." Id. at 251-252. Indeed, "[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drafting of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge..." Id. at 255.

"To recover on a promissory note the government must first make a prima facie case showing that (1) the defendant signed it, (2) the government is the present owner or holder of the note and (3) the note is in default." U.S. v. Petroff-Kline, 557 F.3d 285, 290 (6th Cir. 2009) (internal citations omitted). "Once such a prima facie case is established, defendant has the burden of proving the ...


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