United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION AND ORDER
ADELMAN District Judge.
United States of America brought suit against Jean Giles,
alleging that she owes the U.S. Department of Education (DOE)
more than $55,000 plus interest because of a student loan
that she received in 1996 but never repaid. The government
moves for summary judgment. In a prior order, I noted some
potential evidentiary issues with the materials that the
government initially filed in support of its motion and gave
it an opportunity to submit additional materials. The
government has done so, and the parties have submitted briefs
addressing the admissibility of those materials. I will now
consider the government’s motion on the merits.
started college in 1978 and paid for her education in part by
taking out student loans. After graduating, she returned to
school part-time to pursue a master's degree. She made
all required payments on her student loan debt until 1995
when, through an attorney, she filed a petition for relief
under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. In Schedule F of her
petition (listing creditors holding unsecured nonpriority
claims), she listed $30,488 owed to “Great Lakes Higher
Ed.” for student loans. ECF No. 47-3, at 2. The
bankruptcy court issued a discharge order on August 2, 1995,
and Giles never again made a voluntary payment toward her
student loan debt. The parties dispute whether Giles’s
student loans were discharged.
her bankruptcy case ended, Giles started getting phone calls
from Sallie Mae, a financial services company specializing in
student loans, demanding payment on her student loan debt.
She did not understand why Sallie Mae was calling given that
her loans were with Great Lakes and she thought they had been
discharged. She told Sallie Mae that the debt had been
discharged and demanded that the calls stop. They
didn’t. Giles was told that if she signed an
application for a consolidation loan, the calls would stop.
She signed in December 1995, and the calls stopped.
consolidation loan (for $33,178.87 at 7% interest annually)
was disbursed by Sallie Mae on May 9, 1996. The loan was
guaranteed by the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation
and reinsured by DOE under the Federal Family Education Loan
Program (FFELP), part of Title IV-B of the Higher Education
Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1071 to
defaulted on October 18, 2005. The loan holder filed a claim
on the loan guarantee, the guarantor paid the claim in the
amount of $55,566.73, and the entire amount paid became due
to the guarantor as principal. See 34 C.F.R. §
682.410(b)(4). The guarantor collected a total of $6,049
while it held the debt but was unable to collect the full
amount due. On October 9, 2009, the guarantor assigned its
right and title to the loan to DOE.
26, 2014, DOE referred the matter to the U.S.
Attorney’s Office, which brought this suit. According
to the government, Giles owes outstanding principal in the
amount of $55,026.07 plus interest accruing at a rate of
$10.55 per day.
is entitled to summary judgment if it shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and it is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). To
survive a motion for summary judgment, a non-moving party
must show that sufficient evidence exists to allow a jury to
return a verdict in its favor. Brummett v. Sinclair
Broad. Grp., Inc., 414 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2005).
For the purposes of deciding the government’s motion, I
resolve all factual disputes and make all reasonable factual
inferences in favor of Giles, the non-moving party.
Springer v. Durflinger, 518 F.3d 479, 483–84
(7th Cir. 2008).
proceeding to the merits, I will address the parties’
evidentiary issues. Originally, the government relied on a
certificate of indebtedness executed by a DOE loan analyst
and two declarations by Christian Odom, a DOE senior loan
analyst, to establish numerous material facts, such as when
Giles defaulted on her student loan obligation, when the
original holder of the loan filed a claim seeking
reimbursement from the loan guarantor, and when the guarantor
assigned its right and title to the loan to DOE. Giles argued
that these materials were not based on personal knowledge and
that they contained inadmissible hearsay.
expressed concern about these materials because, as
submitted, I could not determine whether they were
admissible. They appeared to be based on DOE records, many of
which the government did not provide. I also noted that the
government had not sufficiently demonstrated that the records
were admissible under the so-called business records
exception to the general evidentiary prohibition on hearsay.
Fed. R. Evid. 803(6). I gave the government an opportunity to
properly support its motion with admissible evidence. I find
that it has done so.
government submitted additional DOE records with a
supplemental declaration from Odom, which shows that the
records properly fall within the business records exception.
Federal Rule of Evidence 803 states that the following are
not excluded by the rule against hearsay:
(6) Records of a Regularly Conducted Activity. A
record of an act, event, condition, ...