United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. BREDAR, CHIEF JUDGE
Schuster filed suit against Defendants Navient Solutions,
LLC, Sallie Mae Bank, SLM Corporation, Sallie Mae Bank Inc.,
Equifax Inc., Equifax Consumer Services, LLC, Equifax
Information Services, LLC, Experian Data Corp., Experian
Information Solutions, Inc., Experian Service Corp., and
Trans Union LLC alleging violations of the Fair Credit
Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. §§
1681, et seq., as well as defamation, negligence,
and invasion of privacy/ false light. Schuster sought
dismissal of his claims related to all parties except for
those related to Sallie Mae Bank ("SMB").
alleges that his daughter listed him as a co-signer on her
student loans without his permission. He claims he has been
damaged by SMB's reporting to credit agencies regarding
his status as a co-signer on these loans. Schuster seeks
actual, statutory, and punitive damages, as well as
reasonable attorney's fees and costs. Schuster also seeks
a declaratory judgment concerning his status as a co-signer
on these loans.
filed a motion to dismiss and a motion for sanctions, and the
matters are fully briefed. No hearing is required.
See Local Rule 105, 6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons
set forth below, SMB's motion to dismiss will be granted,
and SMB's motion for sanctions will be denied.
the second case Schuster has brought in this Court against a
Sallie Mae company challenging his status as a co-signer on
seven of his daughter's student loans. See Schuster
v. SLM Corp., Civ. No. CCB-17-2108, 2017 WL 4777708 (D.
Md. Oct. 23, 2017) (Blake, J.). In both cases, Schuster
alleges that his daughter listed him as a co-signer on her
student loans without his permission. (Compl. ¶ 31, ECF
No. 1; First Compl. ¶ 26, Mot. Dismiss Ex. A, ECF No.
35-4.) And, in both cases, Schuster seeks to hold a Sallie
Mae entity liable for the harm he has experienced resulting
from these allegedly fraudulently-procured loans.
August 17, 2017, Schuster filed an amended complaint in his
first suit alleging that SLM Corporation ("SLM")
was liable for negligence in issuing these student loans.
(First Compl. ¶¶ 31-33, Mot. Dismiss Ex. A.) He
also requested a judgment declaring: (1) Schuster "is
not a cosigner or co-obligor regarding any of the
Loans;" and (2) "[a]ny reporting to a credit
reporting agency that Plaintiff is a co-signer on any Loan
and/or that Plaintiff is delinquent on any Loan be
removed." (Id. at 4-5.) Judge Blake granted the
motion to dismiss, holding that banks do not have a duty to
protect noncustomers (such as Schuster) from fraud absent an
intimate nexus between the two, which did not exist between
Schuster and SLM. Schuster, 2017 WL 4777708, at
*l-3. Judge Blake also denied Schuster's request for a
declaratory judgment because she found Schuster had no
"plausible substantive claims." Id. at *3
November 21, 2018, Schuster filed his complaint in the
current suit. After consenting to termination of the other
Defendants (ECF Nos. 24, 36, 49, 55, 56), SMB is the last
remaining defendant. In his complaint, Schuster states that
he "sent formal, written disputes" on or about May
31, 2018 to Navient Solutions, Inc., Sallie Mae, SMB, SLM
Corporation, and credit reporting agencies ("CRAs")
Equifax, Experion, and TransUnion regarding his status as
co-signer on his daughter's student loans. (Compl. ¶
39.) Equifax and Experian responded that either "Sallie
Mae" or "Sallie Mae Inc." had verified that
the student loans were accurately attributed to Schuster.
(Id. ¶¶ 41-42.) TransUnion responded that
it had investigated Schuster's complaint and would
continue to report the student loans on Schuster's credit
report. (Id. ¶ 40.) As a result of this
reporting, Schuster states that he was denied a credit card.
(Id. ¶ 43.)
alleges SMB violated the FCRA by failing to properly
investigate whether he was a co-signer on the aforementioned
loans, failing to share the information it received from
Schuster contesting his status as a co-signer with CRAs, and
reporting inaccurate information to CRAs with regard to his
status as a co-signer. (Compl. ¶ 57.) Schuster also
alleges SMB is liable for defamation and invasion of
privacy/false light for making false oral and written
communications to CRAs and attorneys regarding his status as
a co-signer. (Id. ¶¶ 69-77, 90-93.)
Finally, Schuster alleges that SMB was negligent by violating
the FCRA, failing to communicate to CRAs that Schuster was
not a co-signer on the loans, and "[c]ontinuing to
report the inaccurate information 1 to [CRAs] despite having
knowledge of the inaccuracies." (Id.
seeks a declaratory judgment stating he "is not a
co-signer or co-obligor with regard to any of the
Loans." (Id. at 23.) He also requests an order
directing SMB to: (1) "immediately delete all of the
inaccurate information from Plaintiffs credit reports and
files"; (2) "cease reporting the inaccurate
information to any and all persons and entities to whom [SMB]
report[s] customer credit information"; and (3)
"send to all persons and entities to whom [SMB] ha[s]
reported Plaintiff's inaccurate information updated and
corrected credit report information." (Id.)
filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) and a motion for sanctions pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 and 28 U.S.C. § 1691.
The Court will address each motion in turn.
Motion to Dismiss
filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. (Mot.
Dismiss at 1, ECF No, 35.) A complaint must contain
"sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face."' Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Facial plausibility exists "when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678. An inference of the mere possibility of misconduct is
not sufficient to support a plausible claim. Id. at
679. Courts must "accept the well-pled allegations of
the complaint as true, . . . constru[ing] the facts and
reasonable inferences derived therefrom in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff." Ibarra, 120 F.3d
at 474. "A pleading that offers 'labels and
conclusions' or . . . 'naked assertion[s]' devoid
of 'further factual ...