United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge.
pending and ready for resolution in this case is a motion to
dismiss filed by Defendant American Education
Services/Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency
("Defendant"). (ECF No. 7). Also pending are
several motions filed by Plaintiff Starsha Sewell
("Plaintiff"). (ECF Nos. 11; 13; 15; 17). The
relevant issues have been briefed, and the court now rules,
no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the
following reasons, Defendant's motion to dismiss will be
granted. Plaintiff's motions will be denied.
February 1, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application to
consolidate her student loans with the United States
Department of Education. (ECF No. 1-1). Attached to
Plaintiff's application was an addendum indicating that
Plaintiff applied for a "Special Direct Consolidation
Loan." (Id. at 13-17). The addendum included
the terms and conditions governing a Special Direct
Consolidation Loan. It noted that, if certain requirements
are met, the following loan types may be consolidated:
Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans; Unsubsidized Federal
Stafford Loans; Federal PLUS Loans; Subsidized Federal
Consolidation Loans; Unsubsidized Federal Consolidation
Loans; Federal Insured Student Loans; Guaranteed Student
Loans; Federal Supplemental Loans for Students; and Auxiliary
Loans to Assist Students. (Id. at 16). Defendant
became the servicer of Plaintiff's consolidated loan.
According to Plaintiff, one of her loans, a loan with Nova
Southeastern University (the "Nova loan"), was not
consolidated. (ECF No. 1, at 1). Plaintiff was unaware that
the Nova loan was not consolidated, and the loan went into
October 9, 2015, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed
a complaint to commence this action. (ECF No. 1). Along with
her complaint, Plaintiff filed a motion to proceed in
forma pauperis, which was granted. (ECF Nos. 2;
3). Plaintiff's exact claims are not entirely clear, but
it appears that she is asserting claims of: breach of
contract; discrimination based on race in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1981; a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting
Act (the "FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et
seq.; and "fraudulent obstruction of
[j]ustice" in violation 18 U.S.C. § 1519 and Title
IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title
IX"), 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (ECF No. 1,
November 18, Defendant filed the pending motion to dismiss
for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff was
provided with a Roseboro notice, which advised her
of the pendency of the motion to dismiss and her entitlement
to respond within 17 days. (ECF No. 9); see Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309, 310 (4th Cir. 1975)
(holding that pro se plaintiffs should be advised of
their right to file responsive material to a motion for
summary judgment). In response, Plaintiff filed a
"Motion to Strike and Dismiss Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss [and] a Motion for Declaratory Judgment" (ECF
No. 11), and Defendant responded in opposition (ECF No.
Plaintiff also filed a "Second Motion to Strike and
Dismiss Response in Opposition [and] a Second Motion for
Declaratory Judgment" (ECF No. 13), to which Defendant
responded (ECF No. 14). Plaintiff then filed a "Motion for
Default Judgment" (ECF No. 15) and a "Motion for
Ruling on Plaintiff's [Prior Motions]" (ECF No.
Standard of Review
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test
the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir.
2006). A complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule
8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). "Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a
‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of
entitlement to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n.3 (2007). That showing must
consist of more than "a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action" or "naked
assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
stage, all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint must be
considered as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S.
266, 268 (1994), and all factual allegations must be
construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
See Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176
F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Mylan
Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134
(4th Cir. 1993)); Brockington v. Boykins,
637 F.3d 503, 505-06 (4th Cir. 2011). In
evaluating the complaint, unsupported legal allegations need
not be accepted. Revene v. Charles Cnty.
Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir.
1989). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are
insufficient, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, as are
conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to
actual events. United Black Firefighters v. Hirst,
604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also
Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th
Cir. 2009). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not
permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct, the complaint has alleged, but it has not
‘show[n] that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Thus, "[d]etermining whether a
complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
pro se pleadings are liberally construed and held to
a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976));
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Liberal
construction means that the court will read the pleadings to
state a valid claim to the extent that it is possible to do
so from the facts available; it does not mean that the court
should rewrite the complaint to include claims never
presented. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1132
(10th Cir. 1999). Even when pro se
litigants are involved, the court cannot ignore a clear
failure to allege facts that support a viable claim.
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387,
391 (4th Cir. 1990); Forquer v. Schlee,
No. RDB-12-969, 2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md. Dec. 4, 2012)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted) ("[E]ven
a pro se complaint must be dismissed if it does not
allege a plausible claim for relief.").
Breach of Contract
asserts that Defendant "refused to remove the loan from
default in violation of the contractual agreement in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981." (ECF No. 1, at 2).
It is not clear if Plaintiff attempts to assert a separate
common-law breach of contract claim or solely a § 1981
claim. Construing the complaint liberally, Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant breached a contract by not consolidating the
Nova loan despite the fact that Plaintiff listed it on her
consolidation application. Defendant counters that Plaintiff
has not plausibly stated that she had a contract with
Defendant. Rather, Defendant argues that Plaintiff only
references her application for consolidation, which
was submitted to the Department of Education, not Defendant.
prevail in an action for breach of contract, a plaintiff must
prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a contractual
obligation and that the defendant breached that
obligation." Jaguar Land Rover N. Am., LLC v.
Manhattan Imported Cars, Inc., 738 F.Supp.2d 640, 649
(D.Md. 2010) (citing Taylor v. NationsBank, N.A.,
365 Md. 166, 175 (2001)). Here, Plaintiff has not put forth
facts alleging that Defendant owed her a contractual
obligation. Plaintiff listed the Nova loan on her application
for consolidation with the Department of Education, but she
makes no factual assertions that Defendant entered into a