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Humphrey v. Navient Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

September 13, 2017

IAN HUMPHREY, Plaintiff,
v.
NAVIENT SOLUTIONS, INC., Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON District Judge

         Defendant Navient Solutions, Inc., serviced plaintiff Ian Humphrey's student loans from 2010 to 2014, when Humphrey received a discharge for being disabled. Humphrey is suing Navient under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2, on the ground that Navient failed to conduct a reasonable investigation after receiving notice of multiple disputes that it was furnishing inaccurate information about Humphrey's loans to credit reporting agencies.

         Two motions are now before the court: (1) Navient's motion for summary judgment, Dkt. 79; and (2) Navient's motion to strike the affidavit of Sam Wayne, Dkt. 123. The court will grant the first motion and deny the second. Navient is entitled to summary judgment because Humphrey has not shown that he suffered any harm as a result of Navient's alleged failure to conduct a reasonable investigation, which means that Humphrey lacks standing to sue. Because the court does not need to consider the Wayne affidavit in resolving the summary judgment motion, it is not necessary to decide whether the affidavit is admissible.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

         In November 2010, Navient began servicing seven of Humphrey's student loans. Humphrey never made any payments to Navient.

         According to Humphrey, in October 2011, he sent Navient an application for a “Total and Permanent Disability Discharge.” Navient says that it has no record of receiving that application.

         On March 12, 2012, Humphrey asked Navient to send him an application for a “Total and Permanent Disability Discharge.” Navient sent Humphrey an application form the same day.

         From September 2012 to December 2012, Navient furnished information to consumer reporting agencies that Humphrey's accounts were past due. Navient continues to furnish information that Humphrey's accounts were past due during that time.

         On November 26, 2012, Humphrey returned a completed application for a disability discharge, but it was not the same form that Navient sent him. Because it was an expired version of the form that the U.S. Department of Education no longer accepted, Navient notified Humphrey on December 7, 2012, that it could not process his application and it sent Humphrey a new form.

         From July 2013 to December 2013, Navient furnished information to consumer reporting agencies that Humphrey's accounts were past due. Navient continues to furnish information that Humphrey's accounts were past due during that time.

         On October 14, 2013, Humphrey called Navient. After Humphrey stated that he “had been considered permanently disabled in the past, ” Dkt. 82, ¶ 15, Navient informed Humphrey how to apply for a disability discharge.

         On December 6, 2013, Navient received from Humphrey a completed form called “Loan Discharge Application: False Certification (Disqualifying Status).” Navient did not respond to this request. However, after December 2013, Navient stopped reporting that Humphrey had a past due amount or otherwise owed any money.

         On February 6, 2014, Nelnet (the Department of Education's servicer for disability discharges) informed Navient that it had received an application for a disability discharge from Humphrey. In July 2014, Humphrey's student loans were discharged.

         Twice in July 2014 and once each in August 2014, November 2014, April 2015, and September 2015, Navient received a so-called “Automated Consumer Dispute Verification” about Humphrey's student loans from a consumer reporting agency such as Equifax or Trans Union. The parties do not explain exactly what an “Automated Consumer Dispute Verification” is, but the court's understanding from context and other cases is that it is both a notice from a consumer reporting agency that there is a dispute about the accuracy of information in a credit report and a request for the creditor to verify that information. For simplicity, the court will refer to an Automated Consumer Dispute Verification as a verification request.

         Each verification request included one or more of the following “dispute codes”: “Not liable for account (i.e., ex-spouse, business). If liable, provide or confirm ID and ECOA Code”; “Consumer states inaccurate information. Provide or confirm ID and account information”; “Not his/hers. Provide or confirm complete ID”; “Claims true identity fraud, account fraudulently opened. Provide or confirm complete ID”; and “Claims company will delete. Verify all account information.” Both July 2014 requests included a remark that Humphrey's loan was “[d]ischarged via TPD through NELNET.” The November 2014 verification request included a document in which Humphrey alleged that an admissions counselor “set up these loans without power of attorney using my info” and that “[t]hey have no proof I signed for these loans.” The April 2015 request included an allegation from Humphrey that a “school falsely certified me for a . . . Federal Loan that I was not eligible for. I did not authorize these items.”

         In response to each of these requests, Navient reviewed its “internal records” related to Humphrey's “personal identification information, promissory notes, and loan documentation” and determined that Humphrey incurred the loans and that the information was accurate. E.g., Dkt. 82, ¶ 57. Each time, Navient reported back to the consumer reporting agency that the information it furnished was correct, with a few exceptions that are not relevant to the case.

         Humphrey sent letters dated June 18, 2014, July 30, 2014, and September 16, 2015, in which he complained about his student loans. The 2014 letters are addressed to “Sallie Mae” rather than Navient, but Humphrey says that he sent all of the letters to Navient.

         In the June 2014 letter, Humphrey wrote that his credit report showed “late payment periods” even though there were “no late payments.” Humphrey cited several reasons to support his view, including that there were “circumstances where the items did not require payment due to their status in a government evaluation process ...


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