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Junior v. Dominican University

March 15, 2007

RON HADDAD JUNIOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DOMINICAN UNIVERSITY AND SALLIE MAE SERVICING, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Ron Haddad Junior ("Haddad" or "Plaintiff") brings suit against Dominican University ("Dominican") and Sallie Mae, Inc. ("Sallie Mae" and, together with Dominican, "Defendants") for violations of the Higher Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. Defendants move for summary judgment on all grounds. Because Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that he was falsely certified or that he exhausted his administrative remedies, Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment are granted.

Facts

Plaintiff attended university at Dominican from 1998-1999. Haddad Jr. Dep. at 7. To fund his education at Dominican, Haddad executed three separate student loan applications entitled Application and Promissory Note for Federal Stafford Loan. Def. Ex. 1-3. The loans were made by TCF Bank and purchased by Sallie Mae, a secondary market purchaser that provides liquidity to the federal loan program. Sallie Mae Stmt. at 4.

Haddad personally signed all three applications, but testified that he did not read the loan applications before he signed them. Although each application contained the phrase "THIS IS A LOAN THAT MUST BE REPAID" in bold letters above the signature line, Haddad testified at his deposition that he did not understand he would be liable for repayment. Def. Ex. 1-3; Haddad Jr. Dep. at 46. Instead, Haddad thought his father was paying for his education because his father told him he "would take care of [the loan]," filled out parts of all three applications, and had already paid for Haddad's previous education at another local college. Haddad Jr. Dep. at 44-46, 87.

Haddad claims that neither Dominican nor Sallie Mae evaluated his financial ability to receive and repay student loans. Haddad met with Bob Morsivillo, a representative of Dominican who interviews prospective students, who asked Haddad how he would pay for his education at Dominican. Haddad Sr. Dep. at 22-23. Haddad answered that his father or family would pay. There was no further inquiry by Dominican. Sallie Mae also made no other inquiry into Haddad's financial status.

After withdrawing from Dominican in 1999, Haddad owed $4,478.73 to Dominican and $5,250.00 to Sallie Mae. Dominican Mem. at 16; Donnelly Dep. at 2. In August 2002, Dominican obtained a default judgment against Haddad in the Circuit Court of Cook County and recovered the amount owed to it. Between 2000 and 2005, Haddad's loans were in deferment and forbearance. Haddad Jr. Dep. at 80-81. After the deferment and forbearance periods ended in October 2005, Sallie Mae contacted Haddad numerous times requesting payment, but Haddad failed to pay. Donnelly Dep. at 4.

In October 2006, after the commencement of this suit, Sallie Mae submitted the defaulted loans to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) for payment under the contractual guarantee. Donnelly Dep. at 4. On October 24, 2006, Sallie Mae received a default payment of $5,802 from ISAC for the three loans. Id.

Plaintiff brought this action pro se against Defendants Dominican and Sallie Mae alleging that both Defendants engaged in deceptive practices by inducing him to execute student loans and failing to evaluate his eligibility to receive those loans. Haddad also alleges that Defendants were not forthcoming about the obligation Haddad assumed to repay loans to Sallie Mae at the time he signed for them, notwithstanding his father's oral promise to fund his education at Dominican. Haddad's original Complaint alleged violations of federal mail and wire fraud, as well as deceptive debt collection practices and negligence by Defendants. Defendants moved to dismiss all claims. After reviewing Plaintiff's allegations, this Court limited Plaintiff's potential recovery to claims brought under the Higher Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. Defendants now move for summary judgment. As part of their motion, Defendants served the pro se Plaintiff with notice of the filing of summary judgment, including instructions concerning Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1(b) response to Defendants' statements of fact.

Standard of Review

Rule 56(c) states that a motion for summary judgment shall be granted if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986). This Court views evidence and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill, Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000). When considering a motion for summary judgment, this Court draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the party against whom the motion being considered is made. Allen v. City of Chi., 351 F.3d 306, 311 (7th Cir. 2003). Once a moving party has demonstrated that summary judgment is appropriate, the opposing party must do more than "simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts" to defeat the motion. Matsushita Electric Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed. 2d 538 (1986). A "mere scintilla of evidence" is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

Local Rule 56.1 requires that statements of facts accompanying summary judgment motions contain allegations of material fact that are supported by admissible record evidence. A party's pro se status does not excuse his failure to comply with the requirements of this rule. See Stevens v. Navistar Int'l Transp. Group, 244 F. Supp. 906, 910 (N.D. Ill. 2002); see also Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of Chicago, 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001). Simply denying well-supported factual assertions of the moving party "is unacceptable in the context of summary judgment, where a litigant already has had the opportunity to complete discovery and to develop and assemble appropriate evidence (if any exists) to present a triable case." Oranika v. City of Chicago, 2007 WL 54068 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 3, 2007). In the absence of genuinely disputed facts stated in the Local Rule 56.1 statements of fact and supported by evidence in the record, it is appropriate to grant summary judgment against the non-movant. See Koszola v. Board of Educ. of City of Chicago, 385 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th Cir. 2004).

Discussion

Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies Haddad's claims under the Higher Education Act are barred as a matter of law because it is undisputed that Haddad failed to exhaust the ...


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