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Hamer v. Navient Corp.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 19, 2019

J.V. HAMER, Plaintiff,
v.
NAVIENT CORPORATION, Defendant.

         Justice of the Peace Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County No. JP13-17-012216

          J.V. Hamer, Paoli, Pennsylvania; Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Joelle Eileen Polesky, Esquire, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP, Wilmington, Delaware, Counsel for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff J. V. Hamer, who appears pro se, filed this action in October 2017, in the Justice of the Peace Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County. Defendant Navient Corporation removed the matter to this Court on February 5, 2018. (D.I. 1). The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and § 1332. Pending is Defendant's motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint and Plaintiff's opposition. (D.I. 16, 17, 21, 22). The matter has been fully briefed. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion and give Plaintiff leave to file a second amended complaint.

         BACKGROUND

         This action concerns five federally guaranteed student loans Plaintiff secured from Sallie Mae Corporation, the predecessor of Defendant. (D.I. 13 at ¶ 14). The loans totaled $66, 000. (Id.). Plaintiff has made nearly $30, 000 in payments, yet the balance is in excess of $150, 000. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant has refused to provide an accounting of how his payments were applied to the principal, interest, and fees. (Id. at ¶ 15). Plaintiff attended college at a Historically Black College and University, which has been consistently ranked number 1 or 2 by U.S. News and World Report. (Id. at ¶ 16). Plaintiff alleges that notwithstanding the ranking, Defendant has placed many of the school's borrowers in sub-prime loan products when there was no reason to do so other than an "unwarranted anticipatory failure." (Id.). Plaintiff alleges this was done in bad faith. (Id. at ¶ 17).

         On or about October 13, 2014, Sallie Mae sold Plaintiffs five loan portfolio to Navient. (Id. at ¶ 18). Plaintiff consistently asked for an exact accounting of how his payments were applied to the amount owed, and Defendant consistently refused his requests. (Id.). In July 2017, Plaintiff began telephoning Defendant regarding his payment and explained that it was impossible for him to make a $1, 200 to $1, 400 monthly payment on his teacher's salary. (Id. at ¶ 19)- From July through October 2017, Plaintiff requested a payment "more within reason," and spoke to numerous loan portfolio managers, and Defendant continued to act in bad faith. (Id.).

         During the July through October 2017 time-frame, Defendant reported to all major credit bureaus that Plaintiff had five delinquent loans, despite the fact that the loans had been consolidated as one loan package for accounting and reporting purposes. (Id. at ¶ 20). In January, 2018, Plaintiff was enrolled in Defendant's "rate reduction program" and his loan repayment amount was reduced for a nine month period. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant continue to report the loans as delinquent even though he was enrolled in the program, "thus ruining Plaintiff's credit standing." (Id.).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant never offered him the opportunity to enroll in at least one income-driven repayment plan, a plan designed to help borrowers manage their student loan debt and make monthly payments more affordable. (Id. at ¶ 21). A benefit of the income-driven repayment plan is loan forgiveness after making qualified payments for a number of years while working full-time for certain employers under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. (Id. at ¶ 22). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant continues to steer him towards forbearance agreements knowing that forbearance agreements are more oppressive and onerous than other forms of repayment. (Id. at ¶23).

         For relief Plaintiff asks the Court to: (1) order Defendant to provide Plaintiff a complete accounting; (2) enjoin Defendant from falsely reporting to the various credit bureaus that Plaintiff is delinquent on all loans when he is not; and (3) adjudicate as satisfied all loans between Plaintiff and Defendant based in part on Defendant's explicit contractual representations that, if Plaintiff pursued a career in education or public service, the loans would be forgiven. (Id. at ¶j¶ 24-26). In addition, he seeks any and all other damages. (Id. at ¶ 27).

         Defendant moves to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (D.I 16).

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         In reviewing a motion filed under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most favorable to plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed and his complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94. A Rule 12(b)(6) motion maybe granted only if, accepting the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the complainant, ...


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