United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
REBECCA R. PALLMEYER United States District Judge
Jeanine Stephens filed a pro se state court
complaint against a loan servicer, Navient Solutions, Inc.,
for attempting to enforce a loan that Stephens claim was was
a product of allegedly mishandling an identity theft.
Stephens had taken out a student loan from Sallie Mae, Inc.
(Navient's predecessor) while she was a student from
1999-2001. She asserts that her loan was paid off in full by
2004. Navient, however, asserts that Stephens took out two
other loans in 2004: tuition loans for $25, 000 and $5, 000.
Stephens denies taking out these two loans, but Navient
declared a default on both of them in 2009 and reported
negative information to the credit bureaus. Stephens filed
her complaint against Navient in 2014, asserting that Navient
defamed her, enabled identity theft, and reported false
information to credit bureaus. Navient removed the case to
has agreed to represent Stephens and, on her behalf, filed an
amended containing a single count of negligence. The parties
conducted discovery and Navient filed a motion for summary
judgment, arguing that there is no evidence of identity theft
and that Stephens acknowledged the legitimacy of the loans in
two bankruptcy proceedings. Before ruling on the motion, the
court requested briefs from the parties to determine whether
it had subject matter jurisdiction. For the reasons below,
this matter is remanded to the state court.
Jeanine Stephens alleges Defendant Navient Solutions, Inc.
(formerly Sallie Mae, Inc.), has erroneously attributed
student loans to her that she did not negotiate, and
subsequently reported those loans as unpaid to credit
reporting agencies. Stephens filed a state court complaint
pro se in February, 2014 alleging the following
• Defamation - failure to correct information after
provided with proof.
• Willful enablement of identity theft. Failed to
validate accounts that were believed to be obtained through
• Reaging accounts.
• Validating fradulent [sic] accounts as accurate with
• I have been unable to obtain credit, jobs and pay
extremely high interest due to their willful neglect.
(Compl., Ex. 1 to Notice of Removal [1-1]). She sought $3,
000 in damages. (Id.) Navient timely removed the
case and filed a motion for a more definite statement of
Stephens' claims . Through counsel, Stephens filed an
amended complaint (Am. Compl., Ex. to Mot. to Amend ), in
which she alleges that Navient had a duty to “exercise
reasonable and ordinary care in the servicing of loans,
recordkeeping and related functions” (id. at
¶ 9), but it breached that duty when it
“repeatedly placed student loans on Plaintiff's
account, making it appear that Plaintiff had taken out unpaid
student loans; . . . reported loans as being unpaid by
Plaintiff; . . . [and] repeatedly placed new loans . . .
under Plaintiff's Sallie Mae account number.”
(Id. at ¶ 10.) Stephens averred damages to her
credit, mental state, and employment opportunities
proximately caused by Navient's “negligent
acts.” (Id. at ¶ 11.) The amended
complaint demanded $60, 000 in compensatory damages,
attorneys' fees, and other appropriate relief.
(Id., Prayer for Relief.) After Navient filed its
answer  and the parties conducted discovery, Navient
filed a motion for summary judgment .
reviewing the motion, the court noted a concern about its
jurisdiction, and asked the parties to submit supplemental
briefs on the issue. Order, Sept. 29, 2015 . Each party
submitted a memorandum of law, and the parties agree that the
court has jurisdiction on the bases of an underlying federal
question, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and diversity, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. Pl.'s Mem. with Regard to Ct.'s
Jurisdiction Under 28 U.S.C. 1331 and 1332  [hereinafter
Pl.'s Br.]; Navient Solutions Inc.'s Mem. Regarding
Jurisdiction  [hereinafter Def.'s Br.].
that agreement, it is the court's responsibility to hear
only those cases over which it has jurisdiction. Hukic v.
Aurora Loan Servs., 588 F.3d 420, 427 (7th Cir. 2009).
The court concludes that there is no substantial federal
question posed by Stephens' allegations in her amended
complaint. Further, though the parties are diverse in