Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Boutte v. Spellings

February 11, 2009

DAWN BOUTTE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARGARET SPELLINGS, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Ronald A. Guzmán

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff, Dawn Boutté, has sued Margaret Spellings, Secretary of the Department of Education ("DOE"), pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 702, for judicial review of defendant's denial of Boutté's request to discharge her student loans on the grounds of a total and permanent disability under 20 U.S.C. § 1087(a). The parties have cross-moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56. For the reasons stated in this Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court grants Spelling's motion and denies Boutté's motion.

Local Rule 56.1

On March 24, 2008, defendant provided plaintiff with a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" and a copy of Rule 56 and Local Rule 56.1, which thoroughly explained her obligations with regard to her own summary judgment motion and her response to defendant's motion. These documents also explained the consequences of her failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1. Nonetheless, when plaintiff responded to defendant's motion and when plaintiff herself moved for summary judgment, she failed to comply with LR 56.1.

First, LR 56.1(a)(3) requires that the moving party file a statement of material facts that consists of "short numbered paragraphs, including within each paragraph specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon to support the facts set forth in that paragraph. Failure to submit such a statement constitutes grounds for denial of the motion." In filing a motion for summary judgment, a pro se litigant is not exempt from complying with procedural rules. See Members v. Paige, 140 F.3d 699, 702 (7th Cir. 1998) ("[R]ules apply to uncounseled litigants and must be enforced."); Jones v. Phipps, 39 F.3d 158, 163 (7th Cir. 1994) ("Although civil litigants who represent themselves ('pro se') benefit from various procedural protections not otherwise afforded to the attorney-represented litigant . . . pro se litigants are not entitled to a general dispensation from the rules of procedure or court imposed deadlines.")

Boutté did not provide a numbered statement of material facts in support of her motion for summary judgment as required by LR 56.1(a)(3). Pursuant to LR 56.1(a)(3), failure to submit such a statement constitutes grounds for denial of the motion. LR 56.1(a)(3). Accordingly the Court denies her motion.*fn1

Second, LR 56.1(b)(3) requires "a concise response to the movant's statement" that contains "a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the . . . parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." A non-movant's failure to comply with LR 56.1(b) results in an admission of all facts set out in the movant's Statement of Material Facts. LR 56.1(b)(3)(C); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 682-83 (7th Cir. 2003). The Seventh Circuit has consistently upheld a district court's strict enforcement of the local rules regarding summary judgment "[b]ecause of the important function local rules like Rule 56.1 serve in organizing the evidence and identifying disputed facts." Fed. Trade Comm'n v. Bay Area Bus. Council, Inc., 423 F.3d 627, 633 (7th. Cir. 2005). Moreover, the Seventh Circuit has upheld a district court's strict enforcement when a pro se litigant opposes summary judgment. See Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001).

Boutté failed to respond to the numbered paragraphs in defendant's statement of material facts. Accordingly, pursuant to LR 56.1(b), the facts asserted in defendant's statement of material facts that are supported by the Administrative Record ("A.R.") are deemed admitted.*fn2

Facts

On or about January 31, 1996, plaintiff signed promissory notes for two Stafford loans obtained for studies at Columbia College. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 3, 5.) On or about March 12, 1996, the first subsidized Stafford loan was disbursed in the amount of $1,313.00, and on April 8, 1996, an additional $1,312.00 was disbursed. (Id. ¶ 3.) On the same day, the second unsubsidized Stafford loan was disbursed in the amount of $2,000.00, and on April 8, 1996, an additional $2,000.00 was disbursed. (Id. ¶ 6.)

On or about August 18, 1996, plaintiff signed the promissory notes for two additional Stafford loans obtained for studies at Columbia College. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 11.) On or about September 30, 1996, the third subsidized Stafford loan was disbursed in the amount of $1,313.00, and on February 17, 1997, an additional $1,312.00 was disbursed. (Id. ¶ 9.) On the same day, the fourth unsubsidized Stafford loan was disbursed in the amount of $2,000.00, and on February 17, 1997, an additional $2,000.00 was disbursed. (Id. ¶ 12.)

On January 9, 1999, plaintiff defaulted on all four Stafford loan obligations. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 7, 10, 13.) As of July 10, 2007, plaintiff owed the DOE $2,862.83 on the first subsidized loan, $4,870.46 on the second unsubsidized loan, $2,863.74 on the third subsidized loan, and $4,761.83 on the fourth unsubsidized student loan. (A.R., Ex. M.)

On three different occasions, plaintiff applied for a loan discharge based on her alleged total and permanent medical disability. On January 14, 2003, the DOE received plaintiff's first disability loan discharge application. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 14.) Apparently, plaintiff was unsure that she qualified as totally disabled because she called the DOE to inquire whether she could be permanently disabled if she was able to care for herself. (Id.) On April 16, 2003, the DOE received a letter dated October 1, 2001 from plaintiff's physician, Dr. Eric Brehm, indicating that plaintiff suffered from spinal stenosis causing chronic lower back pain and was in therapy. (Id. ¶ 15; A.R., Ex. H.) Because the DOE concluded that plaintiff's condition did not prevent her from being able to work, it denied her disability application on that same date. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 15.) After the rejection, plaintiff asked permission to send in additional documents in support of her application, and the DOE mailed her a new application. (Id. ¶ 16.)

Over a year later, on August 20, 2004, plaintiff called the DOE and stated that she was totally and permanently disabled. (Id. ΒΆ 17.) On October 3, 2004, the DOE received plaintiff's second disability loan discharge application. (Id.) The DOE again denied her application because she failed to include any additional ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.