United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
BOND ARTERTON, U.S.D.J.
United States of America moves for summary judgment against
Defendant Suzanne Flynn, arguing that Defendant has
"failed to assert any viable defenses to the United
States' claims or present any genuine issue of material
fact." (PL's Mot. for Summ. J. [Doc. # 8] at 1.) For
the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs motion is granted.
alleges that "the Defendant is indebted to the Plaintiff
for a combined principal amount of $58,438.11, plus combined
interest of $10,834.40, plus additional interest thereafter.
(Compl. [Doc. # 1] H 3-4.) Plaintiff alleges that
"[d]emand has been made upon the Defendant by the
Plaintiff for the sum due, but the amount due remains
unpaid." (Id. at p. 2.) Plaintiff therefore
seeks "judgment against the Defendant for the combined
total of $69,272.51, plus costs, plus interest that accrues
from January 8, 2018 to the date of judgment."
(Id.) Plaintiff attached to its Complaint two
Certificates of Indebtedness which state that Defendant
executed several promissory notes to secure loans from the
U.S. Department of Education in 1996, 1997, and 1998. (Exs. A
and B to Compl. [Doc. ##1-1, 1-2].)
contends that she "submitted timely loan
payments to the [Department of Education] each and every
month for a period often (10) consecutive years, commencing
in February, 2000, and ending in April, 2010, at which time,
Defendant fell on extreme hardship." (Def.'s Opp. at
1-2.) She alleges that the "total payments made by
Defendant at the time payments ceased amounted to
$73,745.26." (Id. at 2.) The Borrower History
and Activity Report attached by Defendant to her opposition
shows payments of varying amounts, beginning in February 2000
and ending in April 2010, and ultimately lists
"$73,745.26" under the column "TOT PAID."
(Ex. A to Def.'s Opp. (Borrower History and Activity
Report.) [Doc. # 9] at 2.) Defendant contends that this
payment history "directly contradicts" the
Plaintiffs claim, via the Certificates of Indebtedness, that
Defendant defaulted on December 1, 2012. (Def.'s Opp. at
Answer, Defendant, who is proceeding pro se in this
matter, represented that she "presently lacks sufficient
knowledge or information to determine the truth of the
allegations" in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Complaint.
(Answer [Doc. # 7] at f¶ 3-4.) She further asserted
several affirmative defenses, including "laches";
"prevention, frustration, and impossibility of
performance"; "contrary to public policy";
"failure to act in a commercially reasonable
manner"; and "unenforceability of the Promissory
notes submitted to Defendant by the U.S. Department of
Education." (Id. at ¶J 6-10.)
thereafter moved for summary judgment, arguing that Defendant
has "failed to assert any viable defenses to the United
States' claims or present any genuine issue of material
fact." (PL's Mot. for Summ. J. at 1.) Defendant
opposed that motion, (Def.'s Mem. Opp. Mot. for Summ. J.
[Doc. # 9]), the Plaintiff replied, (PL's Reply [Doc. #
10), and Defendant was granted leave to file a sur-reply but
did not do so, (Order Granting Def.'s Mot. for Leave to
File Sur-Reply [Doc. # 12]).
judgment is appropriate where, "resolv[ing] all
ambiguities and draw[ing] all permissible factual inferences
in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is
sought," Holcomb v. lona Coll., 521 F.3d
130,137 (2d Cir. 2008), "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). "A dispute regarding a material fact is
genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Williams
v. Utica Coll. of Syracuse Univ., 453 F.3d 112, 116 (2d
Cir. 2006) (quotation marks omitted). "The substantive
law governing the case will identify those facts that are
material, and '[o]nly disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will
properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.'"
Bouboulis v. Transp. Workers Union of Am., 442 F.3d
55, 59 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). When considering a
motion for summary judgment, the Court may consider
depositions, documents, affidavits, interrogatory answers,
and other exhibits in the record. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
Government is entitled to summary judgment if its evidence
establishes that [defendant] signed promissory notes,
received loans pursuant to these notes, and defaulted on
[her] payment obligations,' . . . 'and if its
evidence supports the amount it alleges is due."'
United States v. Cohen, 111 F. Supp. 3d 166,172 (D.
Conn. 2015) (quoting UnitedStates v. Mullaney, 2010
WL 4681251, at *1 (D. Conn. 2010) and citing Chem. Bank
v. Geller, 727 F.2d 61, 64 (2d Cir.) decision
clarified on denial ofreh'g, 734 F.2d 132 (2d Cir.
1984), United States v. Whittlesey, 2010 WL 1882283,
at *2 (D. Conn. May 11, 2010)). Presentation by Plaintiff of
"a certificate of indebtedness and the promissory note
sued upon" may satisfy the government's prima
facie case. Id. (citing Whittlesey,
2010 WL 1882283, at *2).
argues that, because Plaintiff only "presented the
certificates of indebtedness but not the original, signed
promissory notes," it has not established its prima
facie case. (Def.'s Opp. at 1.) Plaintiff did
subsequently place in the record those promissory notes as
attachments to its Reply to Defendant's Opposition. (Exs.
1-6 (Promissory Notes) to PL's Reply [Doc. ## 10-1 -
10-16].) Plaintiff has met its burden to demonstrate the debt
owed by Defendant, shifting the burden to Defendant to prove
any defenses to repayment. See Mullaney, 2010 WL
4681251, at *2 (citing Proctor v. U.S. Dept. of Ed.,
196 Fed. App'x 345, 348 (6th Cir. 2006) (once a prima
facie case is established, "the burden of proof of
a defense to repayment is on the debtor")).
pled a variety of affirmative defenses: (1) laches; (2)
frustration and impossibility of performance; (3)
contrariness to public policy; (4) failure to act in a
commercially reasonable matter; and (5) unenforceability of
the promissory notes. (Answer ¶¶ 6-10.) Plaintiff
argues that each defense lacks merit. (Mem. Supp. Mot. for
Summ. J. [Doc. # 8-1] at 4-6.)
Defendant argues that the "equitable defense of laches
is applicable, as according to the ED payment schedule,
Defendant ceased making payments in April, 2010 [and] ...
Defendant has, as a result of the egregious delay, suffered
irreparable lifetime damage via creditworthiness, finances,
reputation, stigma, employment prospects, a ballooning loan
balance, deprivation of due process, and the despair of being
trapped in a loan servicing system so broken, from which
there was no available remedy." (Def.'s Opp. at 2.)
Defendant contends that this delay is in violation of 28
U.S.C. § 2415, which states that
every action for money damages brought by the United States
or an officer or agency thereof which is founded upon any
contract express or implied in law or fact, shall be barred
unless the complaint is filed within six years after the
right of action accrues or within one year after final
decisions have been rendered in ...