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Flax v. Navient Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 28, 2017

JOSHUA FLAX Plaintiff
v.
NAVIENT SOLUTIONS, INC., et al. Defendants

MEMORANDUM & ORDER RE: DISMISS

          Marvin J. Garbis United States District Judge

         The Court has before it the Motion of Navient Solutions, Inc. to Dismiss, in part, Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) [ECF No. 13], and the materials relating thereto. The Court finds that a hearing is unnecessary.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff Joshua Flax (“Flax”)[2] was informed by his parents following their divorce that they would share the cost of paying for his undergraduate tuition. Starting in August 2011, Flax attended Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania.[3] In or about April 2013, Flax learned that his sister had been contacted about a loan she had not made. Flax checked his own credit report and was surprised to find that his father had taken three separate private educational loans from Navient Solutions, Inc.[4] in Flax's name without his knowledge or consent by forging his signature on pertinent documents.[5]

         Flax filed the Complaint [ECF No. 2] in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. Navient properly removed the case.[6]

         Flax presents claims against Navient in seven counts:

Count I - Declaratory Relief (no loan obligation)
Count II - Negligence .
Count III - Gross Negligence . Count IV - Violation of Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b) (“FCRA”)
Count V - Violation of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692o (“FDCPA”)
Count VI - Violation of Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md. Code Ann., Com. Law, §§ 13-303(3) and 13-303(4) (“MCPA”)
Count VII - Violation of the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act, Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 14-202, (“MCDCA”)

         By the instant motion, Navient seeks dismissal of Counts II-VII pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         II. DISMISSAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. A complaint need only contain “‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) (citations omitted). When evaluating a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. However, conclusory statements or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not [suffice].” Id. A complaint must allege sufficient facts “to cross ‘the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557)).

         Inquiry into whether a complaint states a plausible claim is “‘a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). Thus, if “the well-pleaded facts [contained within a complaint] 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.'” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (alteration in original)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         There is no doubt that Flax's allegations suffice to plead plausible claims as stated in Count I.[7] However, as discussed herein, the Complaint does not adequately plead the claims asserted in the other Counts.

         A. Factual Allegations

         In the instant dismissal contest, the Court accepts as true Flax's allegations that Navient made loans in his name to pay for his educational expenses by virtue of forged loan documents of which he had no knowledge.

         Navient's correspondence related to the student loans was directed to Flax's father's address, with whom Flax has not resided. When Flax discovered the loans, he contacted Navient by letter to protest the authenticity of the loans.[8]

         Flax alleges that he has made reasonable attempts to reach some sort of settlement and has demanded verification of the debt, including a request for copies of the underlying contracts and support documentation, but Navient was uncooperative. In July 2015, Flax sent a letter[9] requesting compliance with the Federal and Maryland Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts and Verification of the Debt. Navient responded by requesting a Letter of Authorization, [10] pursuant to 15 U.S.C. ยง 1692c(a), authorizing Flax's counsel to communicate with Navient concerning the disputed loans. Upon receipt of the signed authorization, Navient has communicated solely with Flax's counsel regarding the requested documentation. However, Navient has failed to ...


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