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United States v. Houger

July 24, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John W. Sedwick United States District Judge


[Re: Motion at Docket 33]


At docket 33, plaintiff United States of America moves for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. At docket 36, pro se defendant Michael A. Houger ("Houger") opposes the motion. At docket 37, the United States replies. Oral argument was not requested and would not assist the court.


The United States filed the initial complaint on September 10, 2007.*fn1 The complaint alleges that, on April 16, 1991, Houger executed promissory notes for two private loans, in the amounts of $2625.00 and $1500.00 ("Loan A" and "Loan B," respectively),*fn2 and for one federal loan on January 12, 2000, in the amount of $10,733.42 ("Loan C").*fn3 The complaint further alleges that Houger has defaulted on all three of these loans.*fn4 Default judgment was entered against Houger on December 19, 2007.*fn5 The court vacated the default judgment because Houger did not know the court's address, and was unable to suitably answer the complaint.*fn6 The court ordered Houger to properly answer, and ordered the United States to confer with Houger.*fn7

Default judgment was again entered against Houger on April 15, 2008.*fn8 This judgment was vacated because the United States did not comply with the order to confer with Houger.*fn9

Houger answered the complaint on June 11, 2008.*fn10 In his answer, Houger concedes that he signed for Loans A and B in 1991, but denies defaulting on them.*fn11

Houger alleges that he was under the impression that Loan C was meant to consolidate Loans A and B, but that he later learned that it was a new loan "in excess of $10,000."*fn12

Houger states that he has been unable to correct this alleged mistake because he "received no response from the Ford Federal Direct Loan Program."*fn13 He also alleges that he was deliberately misled concerning the nature of Loan C.*fn14

The United States originally moved for summary judgment on June 30, 2008,*fn15 with a somewhat different set of facts than those in the complaint. In that summary judgment motion, the United States argued that, in addition to Loans A, B, and C, Houger took out two additional loans in June of 1990, for unknown amounts ("Loan X" and "Loan Y").*fn16 The United States further argued that Loan C is a consolidation of Loans X and Y, and that the principal, interest, and collection fees of Loans X and Y became the principal of Loan C.*fn17 Additionally, the United States alleged that Chemical Bank, the original private lender of Loans A and B, assigned its claims to the Department of Education, which had referred the debts to the Department of Justice pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 3711(a)(1) and 34 C.F.R. § 30.1(a)(3).*fn18 In July of 2008, the United States filed an unopposed motion for an extension of time in which Houger could reply to the summary judgment motion,*fn19 in order to give both parties sufficient time to obtain old records.*fn20 Rather than extend the time, the court denied the original summary judgment motion without prejudice, and directed the United States to file a renewed motion for summary judgment after obtaining the records.*fn21

On May 7, 2009, the United States filed the current motion for summary judgment.*fn22 In his response, Houger suggests that Loan C is a new loan, rather than a consolidation of Loans X and Y, and states that he never received a disbursement from Loan C.*fn23 He further alleges that the United States has not been conferring with him towards a resolution of these issues.*fn24 The United States, in its reply, argues that Loans A and B (not Loans X and Y, as stated in the motion) were consolidated into Loan C, which is why Houger did not receive a disbursement in 2000.*fn25


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that summary judgment should be granted when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and when the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The moving party has the burden to show that material facts are not genuinely disputed.*fn26 To meet this burden, the moving party must point out the lack of evidence supporting the nonmoving party's claim, but need not produce evidence negating that claim.*fn27 The party who bears the burden of proof on an issue may obtain summary judgment when "the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party."*fn28 Once the moving party meets its burden, the nonmoving party must demonstrate that a genuine issue of fact exists by presenting evidence indicating that certain facts are disputed so that a ...

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