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United States v. Thompson

June 14, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARCHIE D. THOMPSON, JR., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on the Government's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 3), to which defendant has responded (Doc. 5). The United States of America brought this suit against Archie D. Thompson, Jr., who appears pro se, alleging Thompson defaulted on a student loan insured by the United States. The United States seeks judgment in the amount of $49,870.91 plus interest pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1961. The United States also seeks costs in the amount of $250.00, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2412(a)(2). For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT the Government's motion.

BACKGROUND

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper where "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court construes all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draws all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Spath, 211 F.3d at 396.

The moving party has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. If it meets this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth facts that demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26; Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 931 (7th Cir. 1996). The nonmoving party must do more than cast "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000). Rather, the nonmoving party must demonstrate to the Court that the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in his favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Insolia v. Phillip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596 (7th Cir. 2000). Mere assertions of a factual dispute unsupported by probative evidence will not prevent summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-50.

II. Facts

Taken in the light most favorable to the defendant, the facts are as follows. In 1989, Archie D. Thompson, Jr. (Thompson), was a student in the Podiatry School at Barry University. On September 8, 1989, he executed a promissory note for a Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) from Chase Manhattan Bank (Chase) in the amount of $17,990.00.*fn1 HEAL is a federal student loan insurance program, administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for qualified students in health-related graduate programs. 42 U.S.C. § 292 (2000). Students obtain HEAL loans from private lenders. 42 C.F.R. § 60(b). By taking a HEAL loan, the borrower is obligated to repay the lender or holder of the note the full amount of the money borrowed, plus all interest which accrues on the loan. 42 C.F.R. § 60(a). In the note he signed, Thompson agreed to repay the loan beginning the first day of the tenth month after ceasing to be a full-time student (Doc.1 Ex. A). All HEAL borrowers are given a nine-month grace period during which they are not required to make repayments. 42 C.F.R. § 60.11(a)(1) (2006). In the Fall of 1989 and the Spring of 1990, Chase disbursed the loan funds to Barry University. At some point, Chase sold and assigned the note to the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA).

Thompson left Barry University.*fn2 The holder of the note granted Thompson forbearance from paying on the HEAL loan from October 28, 1991 though June 28, 1993. He was to begin repaying the loan July 28, 1993. He made no payments. On August 21, 1996, Thompson filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the Southern District of Illinois. As a result of Thompson's bankruptcy petition, SLMA filed an insurance claim with HHS as provided in 42 C.F.R. § 60.1(c). On October 18, 1996, HHS paid the claim for $29,782.00 and SLMA assigned the note to it. At that point, the United States Government became Thompson's direct creditor. 42 C.F.R. § 60.1(c).

Thompson's bankruptcy was discharged on August 22, 2001. However, HEAL loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy unless certain conditions, which do not apply here, are met. 42 C.F.R. § 60.8(b)(5). HHS notified Thompson, in a letter dated October 22, 2002, that although payments on his HEAL debt had been suspended during his bankruptcy proceedings, his debt was not subject to cancellation by bankruptcy discharge. HHS provided Thompson with instructions for entering into a repayment agreement with notice that he must complete and return it within 30 days, along with a good faith payment. Thompson did not comply.

On December 29, 2002, Thompson again filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the Southern District of Illinois. This time, the bankruptcy action was dismissed. HHS again notified Thompson, in a letter dated July 12, 2004, that although payments on his HEAL debt had been suspended during his bankruptcy proceedings, his debt was not subject to cancellation by bankruptcy discharge. Again, HHS provided Thompson with instructions for entering into a repayment agreement with notice that he must complete and return it within 30 days, along with a good faith payment. Again, Thompson did not comply.

Between October 1, 2004 and April 11, 2005, HHS contacted Thompson by mail several times in an effort to collect the debt or arrange a repayment schedule. Finally, on May 9, 2005, Thompson wrote the Debt Management Branch of HHS requesting forbearance on his HEAL loan. (Doc. 2 at 7). He also requested information on a settlement. Id. In a letter dated January 20, 2006 the Department of Justice (DOJ) refused a $10,000.00 settlement offer from Thompson, but indicated it would accept $30,000.00 in settlement (Doc. 5 at 4). DOJ also indicated it would reconsider the $10,000.00 offer if Thompson provided additional information and documentation. Id. As of March 3, 2006 Thompson's HEAL debt had swelled to $51,868.21 (Doc. 4 Ex. B). Thompson has made payments on his HEAL loan amounting to $2,357.92 (Doc. 4 Ex. A).

ANALYSIS

I. Recovery on a ...


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