United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
GEORGE CARAM STEEH, District Judge.
Plaintiff, United States of America, brought a complaint against defendant Edward J. Davis, Jr., on September 4, 2014. Plaintiff alleges failure to pay indebtedness arising from two federally-guaranteed student loans. The matter is before the court on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The court heard oral arguments on the motion on June 29, 2015. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment shall be GRANTED.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
This case involves an action to collect the balance due on two federally guaranteed student loans. Defendant executed two promissory notes on April 25, 1989 to secure loans in the principal amount of $2, 625.00 (Pl.'s Ex. A) and $3, 193.00 (Pl.'s Ex. B), to attend MTA School in Garret, Indiana. The loans collected interest at a rate of 8% and 6.79% respectively per annum under loan guaranty programs authorized under Title IV-B of the Higher Education Act of 1965. At the date of filing the current lawsuit, plaintiff alleges that the outstanding balance arising from both loans totaled $18, 020.84. Plaintiff alleges that the defendant defaulted on the loan attached to plaintiff's brief as Exhibit A on July 19, 1990 and defaulted on the loan attached as Exhibit B on August 7, 1989.
On September 4, 2014, plaintiff filed the current lawsuit to collect the amount due under the promissory notes. Defendant answered the complaint, denying that he signed the promissory notes and that the promissory notes are non-existent or illegible. The defendant further puts forward that the amounts claimed as due and owed to the plaintiff are inconsistent with the amount taken out as a loan by the defendant. The defendant did not deny that he attended MTA School during the same period of time in which the loan was disbursed. Further, defendant admitted to signing the promissory notes and not making payments. Defendant maintains that he never received demands for payment.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) empowers the court to render summary judgment "forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." See Redding v. St. Edward, 241 F.3d 530, 532 (6th Cir. 2001). The Supreme Court has affirmed the court's use of summary judgment as an integral part of the fair and efficient administration of justice. The procedure is not a disfavored procedural shortcut. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986); see also Cox v. Kentucky Dep't of Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 149 (6th Cir. 1995).
The standard for determining whether summary judgment is appropriate is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'" Amway Distributors Benefits Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323 F.3d 386, 390 (6th Cir. 2003) ( quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The evidence and all reasonable inferences must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Redding, 241 F.3d at 532 (6th Cir. 2001). "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original); see also National Satellite Sports, Inc. v. Eliadis, Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th Cir. 2001).
If the movant establishes by use of the material specified in Rule 56(c) that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the opposing party must come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 270 (1968); see also McLean v. 988011 Ontario, Ltd., 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). Mere allegations or denials in the non-movant's pleadings will not meet this burden, nor will a mere scintilla of evidence supporting the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. Rather, there must be evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the non-movant. McLean, 224 F.3d at 800 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).
Summary judgment is proper because there is no genuine issue of material fact. First, the defendant brings forth no relevant evidence that the certificates of indebtedness are not properly made or properly authenticated affidavits that establish a prima facie case. Second, the defendant fails to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to the plaintiff's prima facie case.
1. Plaintiff's Certificates of Indebtedness are Proper Affidavits
Defendant maintains that the certificates of indebtedness are insufficient to establish a prima facie case because the certificates of indebtedness are neither properly made nor properly authenticated affidavits and that the certificates of indebtedness are "robo-signed." The defendant is incorrect. The certificates of indebtedness are properly made and are properly authenticated affidavit equivalents that may be used to satisfy the required elements for recovery on a promissory note. Documents made under penalty of perjury may be submitted in lieu of affidavits in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1746; United States v. Davis, 28 F.Appx. 502 (6th Cir. 2002). In Davis, the court held that a certificate of indebtedness filed by the Department of Education and testimony of a loan analyst who certified under penalty of perjury that borrower had defaulted on a student loan, established a prima facie case that the government was entitled to collect on the promissory note. Id. at 503.
Additionally, the affidavit from U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Loan Analyst Laura Bevan lends further credence to the authenticity of the original certificate of indebtedness. Defects in original certificates of indebtedness can be cured by supplemental affidavits. United States v. Lawrence, 276 F.3d 193, (5th Cir. 2001); see also Stark v. Kent Products, Inc., 62 Mich.App. 548, 556 (1975) (If there is any difference in opinion as to the terms of a contract it can be reduced to certainty by the testimony of people familiar with the trade). In Lawrence, the defendant challenged the legitimacy of a certificate of authenticity on the grounds that the certificates were not based on personal knowledge and constituted "conclusory hearsay statements." 276 F.3d at 196. The ...