United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis, United States District Judge.
before the Court are Defendants' motions to dismiss (ECF
Nos. 6, 9, 18, 26) and Plaintiff's request for hearing or
trial. ECF No. 24. The Clerk of the Court sent Plaintiff four
letters explaining that failure to respond to these motions
may result in the Court ruling without her response. ECF Nos.
8, 12, 19, 27. Plaintiff has responded in part. ECF Nos. 22,
24. The Court has carefully reviewed the pleadings and finds
that no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For
the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants'
motions to dismiss.
2006, a person claiming to be Plaintiff's daughter
applied for a student loan covering tuition at North Carolina
Agricultural and Technical State University (“the
University”), and listed Plaintiff as co-signer on the
loan. ECF No. 1-1 at 10, 20. Sallie Mae, now operating as
Navient Solutions, LLC (“Navient”), approved the
loan. Id. at 21. However, the loan became
delinquent, and Navient referred the debt to Asset Recovery
Solutions, LLC (“Asset Recovery”) and Allied
Interstate, LLC (“Allied”) for collection.
Id. at 14, 18, 36.
2014, Plaintiff contacted a consumer reporting agency
(“CRA”) to contest the loan as fraudulent.
Id. at 8. The CRA communicated Plaintiff's
contention to Navient, who investigated Plaintiff's claim
and concluded that the loan was valid. Id. Plaintiff
next contacted Navient directly to contest the loan.
Id. at 9, 28. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that
she had been the victim of identity theft and submitted, at
Navient's request, an affidavit affirming that she did
not sign the loan application and that her identification
documents were stolen. Id. at 30. Plaintiff also
sent a police report summarizing the same. Id. at
August 16, 2018, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a
44-page Complaint in the Circuit Court for Prince
George's County, Maryland against Defendants Navient,
Asset Recovery, Allied, the University, and the United States
Department of Education (“DOE”). Id. at
2. Navient is the lending institution that held the loan;
Asset Recovery and Allied are the debt collectors hired by
Navient; and the University accepted the funds from the loan.
From the facts provided, it is unclear what role DOE played
in this matter or why Plaintiff sued the agency.
Complaint characterizes the claims as sounding in
“[f]raud as it relates to the Plaintiff's credit,
finances and deformation of character, ” contending
that the loan was obtained with “an unauthorized use of
[Plaintiff's] signature” and contesting the
validity of the loan as a debt on her credit report.
Id. at 2-3. The Complaint attaches and incorporates
as part of the claim the loan application, letters from
Defendants to Plaintiff, a police report, and Plaintiff's
affidavit concerning her identity theft. See Jeffrey M.
Brown Assocs., Inc. v. Rockville Ctr., Inc., 7 Fed.Appx.
197, 202 (4th Cir. 2001) (“We also accept as true the
facts set forth in the exhibits attached to the
complaint.”) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c)). The Complaint
seeks $2.5 million in damages. ECF No. 1-1 at 4.
October 19, 2018, Navient removed the action to this Court.
ECF No. 1. Navient, Asset Recovery, Allied, and DOE have each
moved to dismiss the Complaint. The University has not
entered an appearance, and Plaintiff has not provided the
Court with any proof of service.
Standard of Review
moves to dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. Such motions, brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, challenge a
court's authority to hear the matter. See Jones v.
Calvert Group, Ltd., 551 F.3d 297, 300-01 (4th
Cir.2009); Davis v. Thompson, 367 F.Supp.2d 792, 799
(D. Md. 2005). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing
subject matter jurisdiction by a preponderance of the
evidence. Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th
Cir. 1999). If “a claim fails to allege facts upon
which the court may base jurisdiction, ” the court must
dismiss the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Davis, 367 F.Supp.2d at 799.
determining whether jurisdiction exists, “the court may
look beyond the pleadings and the jurisdictional allegations
of the complaint and view whatever evidence has been
submitted on the issue.” Khoury v. Meserve,
268 F.Supp.2d 600, 606 (D. Md. 2003) (quoting Capitol
Leasing Co. v. FDIC, 999 F.2d 188, 191 (7th Cir. 1993))
(internal quotation marks omitted). Where the defendant
contends that the complaint “simply fails to allege
facts upon which subject matter jurisdiction can be based,
” the Court construes the facts alleged in the
complaint as true and most favorably to the plaintiff.
Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982).
Whether the Court retains subject matter jurisdiction must be
decided before reaching the merits of the case. Jones v.
Am. Postal Workers Union, 192 F.3d 417, 422 (4th Cir.
remaining Defendants challenge the Complaint as failing to
state legally cognizable causes of action. A motion to
dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). 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)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555).
ruling on a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's well-pleaded
allegations are accepted as true and viewed in the light most
favorable to her. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The
Court may also consider documents attached to the motion to
dismiss when “integral to and explicitly relied on in
the complaint, and when the [opposing parties] do not
challenge the document[s'] authenticity.” Zak
v. Chelsea Therapeutics, Int'l, Ltd., 780 F.3d 597,
606-07 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting Am. Chiropractic
Ass'n v. Trigon Healthcare, Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234
(4th Cir. 2004)) (internal quotation marks omitted). However,
“[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above a speculative level.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555. “[C]onclusory statements or a
‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not [suffice].'” EEOC v.
Performance Food Grp., Inc., 16 F.Supp.3d 584, 588 (D.
Md. 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
“‘[N]aked assertions of wrongdoing necessitate
some ‘factual enhancement' within the complaint 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). Although pro se pleadings
are construed liberally to allow for the development of a
potentially meritorious case, Hughes v. Rowe, 449
U.S. 5, 9 (1980), courts cannot ignore a clear failure to
allege facts setting forth a cognizable claim. See Weller
v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir.
1990) (“The ‘special judicial solicitude'
with which a district court should view such pro se
complaints does not transform the court into an