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Kaetz v. Educational Credit Management Corp

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 17, 2017

WILLIAM F. KAETZ, Plaintiff,


          CLAIRE C. CECCHI, U.S.D.J.


         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of Educational Credit Management Corporation ("Defendant") to dismiss Plaintiff William F. Kaetz's ("Plaintiff') Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 10). The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions from each party. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b), no oral argument was heard. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is granted.


         On August 7, 2012, Plaintiff filed a voluntary petition for relief pursuant to Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey.[1] (ECF No. 10-1 at 8). As part of Plaintiffs voluntary petition, Plaintiff listed Defendant as a creditor holding an unsecured non-priority claim in the amount of $15, 835.00, incurred in July 2010. (Id. at 24). On January 28, 2013, the Honorable Morris Stern, United States Bankruptcy Judge, granted Plaintiff "a discharge under section 727 of title 11, United States Code." (Id. at 36). Included with Plaintiffs discharge was an "EXPLANATION OF BANKRUPTCY DISCHARGE IN A CHAPTER 7 CASE, " which states: "[m]ost, but not all, types of debts are discharged if the debt existed on the date the bankruptcy case was filed .... Some of the common types of debts which are not discharged in a [C]hapter 7 bankruptcy case are:... Debts for most student loans." (Id. at 37).

         On December 13, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Complaint with this Court, contending that, despite the discharge he received on January 28, 2013, Defendant "continued to collect a discharged debt" and "furnished fraudulent information to the other defendants[:] Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax." (ECF No. 1 at 3). On January 25, 2017, Defendant filed its Motion to Dismiss.[2] (ECF No. 10). Defendant argues that Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted because: (1) Plaintiffs debts are student loans, governed by 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8), and therefore were not automatically discharged on January 28, 2013; and (2) Defendant "is required by statute to report certain information to consumer reporting agencies, " and the information Defendant furnished was entirely accurate. (ECF No. 11 at 6-7).

         On March 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed an opposition. (ECF No. 17). Although Plaintiffs opposition was untimely filed, as Plaintiff is pro se, the Court will still consider Plaintiffs opposition. On March 22, 2017, Defendant filed a reply, (ECF No. 21), and on April 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed a sur-reply. (ECF No. 25). Although the Court did not grant permission to Plaintiff to file a sur-reply, the Court will consider Plaintiff's submission.


         A. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)

         For a complaint to survive dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), it "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 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombfy, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombfy, 550 U.S. at 555. Furthermore, "[a] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' .. . will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations omitted).

         B. Liberal Pleading Standard for Pro Se Litigants

         A pro se litigant's complaint is held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Courts have a duty to construe pleadings liberally and apply the applicable law, irrespective of whether a pro se litigant has mentioned the law by name. See Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 244 (3d Cir. 2013). A pro se complaint "can only be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it appears 'beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (quoting Haines, 404 U.S. at 520-21); see also Bacon v. Minner, 229 Fed.Appx. 96, 100 (3d Cir. 2007).


         A. Fair Debt ...

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