United States District Court, D. Maryland
CHARLES W. JOHNSON, JR., Plaintiff,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Defendant.
Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge.
se Plaintiff Charles W. Johnson, Jr.
("Plaintiff' or "Johnson") brings this
action against Defendant United States Department of
Education ("Defendant" or "Department")
seeking judicial review of the Department's decision to
deny his request to discharge his student loan debt on the
basis of identity theft. (ECF No. 1.) Currently pending
before this Court is the Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 12.) This Court previously mailed a Rule
12/56 letter to Plaintiff Johnson notifying him of
Defendant's pending Motion for Summary Judgment and his
right to file a response within seventeen (17) days before
the Court may enter judgment against him without further
notice. (ECF No. 13.) After granting Plaintiffs Motion for
Extension of Time, Plaintiff had until February 7, 2018 to
file a response to Defendant's Motion. (ECF No. 15.)
Plaintiff has not filed a response to the Defendant's
Motion. The Motion has been reviewed, and no hearing is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For
the reasons stated below, the Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 12) is GRANTED.
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, this Court reviews
the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris,
550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007); see also Hardwick ex rel.
Hardwick v. Heyward, 711 F.3d 426, 433 (4th Cir. 2013).
Further, as Plaintiff proceeds pro se, this Court
has "liberally construed" the pleadings and held
them to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Alley v. Yadkin County Sheriff
Dept., 698 Fed.Appx. 141 (4th Cir. Oct. 5, 2017).
Student Loan History
facts of this case are established in large part by the
Department's Administrative Appeal Record. (Exhibit B,
ECF No. 11-2.) On March 5, 1980, Charles W. Johnson,
Jr.signed a Student Loan Application
("Application") requesting $2, 494 dollars to
attend Baltimore City Community College. (Id. at 2.)
About two weeks later, Johnson signed a Promissory Note
("Original Note") agreeing to repay the loan in the
future. (Id. at 3.) However, after filing for
bankruptcy in 1999,  Johnson proceeded to sign a new Promissory
Note ("Consolidation Note") on September 26, 2001,
consolidating his student loans. (Id. at 7.)
Discharge of Student Loan Debt
12, 2017, Plaintiff Johnson completed a
Certification/Agreement of Cooperation of Identity Theft
Claims ("Discharge Form") seeking an
administrative discharge of his student loan debt due to
False Certification. (Id. at 18-20.) The Discharge
Form, certified under the penalty of perjury, instructed
Johnson to submit, among other things, "[a] court
judgment that conclusively finds that you were a victim of
identity theft and identifies the name(s) of the
individual(s) who committed the crime." (Id. at
18.) Along with the Discharge Form, Johnson proceeded to
submit a photocopy of an expired drivers' license, a
Social Security card and a hand-written
statement claiming he "[did] not know anything
about a student loan" and that "so[me]one else
[was] using [his] identity." (Id. at 19-20.)
Johnson also claimed that "about the same year . . .
someone with the same name and all most [sic] the same social
security number used [his] identity for child support
payments." (Id. at 20.) Specifically, Johnson
stated that, in 2001, the year in which he signed the
Consolidation Note, he "was working as a long distance
truck driver" and has now "been driving a truck for
32 years." (Id.) However, Johnson failed to
include a copy of a court judgment finding that he was a
victim of identity theft nor did he identify the name of die
individual who allegedly committed such a crime.
The Department Denies Plaintiff's Request and Plaintiff
28, 2017, the Department wrote to Plaintiff Johnson,
Unfortunately, you do not qualify for a discharge of your
loans due to False Certification. The loans obtained to
Baltimore City Community College were consolidated. The
consolidation of your debt serves as official ratification of
that debt. As a result, you are still responsible for the
repayment of the debt and any interest and/or fees associated
with the debt.
(Agency Determination Letter, ECF No. 11-2 at
The letter further explained to the Plaintiff: "If you
disagree with this decision, you may file a lawsuit in U.S.
Federal District Court." (Id.) On July 26,
2017, Johnson filed this Complaint, alleging that he still
"do[es] not know anything about a student loan,"
and that "someone else is using [his] identity."
(ECF No. 1 at 6.) Johnson also argues that he "[d]id not
[at]tend a community college." (Id.)
motion for summary judgment is generally governed by Rule
56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides
that, "[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) ("[T]he plain
language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary
judgment. . . against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial."). "If a party fails
to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly
address another party's assertion of fact as required by
Rule 56(c), the court may . . . consider the fact undisputed
for purposes of the motion . . . ." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
In other words, "[i]n the face of the defendant's
properly supported motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff
[cannot] rest on his allegations . . . without 'any
significant probative evidence tending to support the
complaint.'" Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986) (quoting First
National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S.
253, 290 (1968)). As the Supreme Court has emphasized,
"[b]y its very terms, this standard provides that the
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the
parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be
no genuine issue of material fact."
Anderson,477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). On those
issues for which the nonmoving party will have the burden of
proof, it is the responsibility of the nonmoving party to
confront the motion for summary judgment with evidence in
order to show the existence of a genuine issue for trial.
See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256; Celotex