Edelman v. U.S. Gov't

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Docket Number18-CV-2143(JS)(AKT)
Decision Date04 December 2020

GARY EDELMAN, Plaintiff,



December 4, 2020


For Plaintiff:

Gary Edelman, pro se
1715 Union Avenue
Hewlett, New York 11557

For Defendants:
United States of America,
Department of Education,
and Betsy DeVos in her
official capacity as
Secretary of Education

Richard Schumacher II, Esq.
United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of New York
610 Federal Plaza
Central Islip, New York 11722

Navient Solutions, LLC,
Stradley Ronon Stevens
& Young, LLP, and
Gerard Donovan

Francis X. Manning
Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP
457 Haddonfield Road, Suite 100
Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08002

SEYBERT, District Judge:

Pro se plaintiff Gary Edelman ("Edelman" or "Plaintiff") commenced this action against defendants the United States Government (the "Government"), the United States Department of Education ("DOE"), Betsy Devos (in her official capacity as Secretary of Education) ("Devos") (together with the United States and DOE, the "Federal Defendants"), Gerard Donovan ("Donovan"),

Page 2

Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP ("SRSY"), and Navient Solutions, LLC. ("Navient") (together with Donovan and SRSY, the "Non-Federal Defendants"; collectively with the Federal Defendants, the "Defendants"). Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint ("SAC," D.E. 43) asserts numerous claims against the Non-Federal Defendants related to the servicing of his federal student loans, as well as a claim that the Federal Defendants colluded with the Non-Federal Defendants thereby violating federal and state law. Along with monetary damages, Plaintiff seeks an order directing Defendants to "remove all negative marking off Plaintiff's credit history" (SAC ¶¶263.a, 264.a); estopping future "harassment, defamation or threats to Plaintiff" ((SAC ¶¶263.b, 264.b); vacating DOE's decision that the loans are legally enforceable (SAC ¶264.c); and preventing wage garnishment and/or tax offsets (SAC ¶264.e).

Currently pending before the Court are the Federal Defendants' motion to dismiss the SAC pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, or, in the alternative, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and the Non-Federal Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions are GRANTED.

Page 3


I. Procedural History

A. State Court Action

This is not the first case involving Plaintiff and Defendants. On April 25, 2016, SRSY, on behalf of Donovan, an employee of Navient, filed a complaint against Plaintiff in Nassau County Supreme Court alleging harassment due to Plaintiff's voluminous phone calls and internet postings regarding Donovan. (See, State Compl. dated Apr. 25, 2016, Ex. A, D.E. 58-2, attached to Decl. of Francis X. Manning, D.E. 58-1.1) Through counsel, Edelman filed counterclaims against Donovan alleging harassment and interference with his ability to have his loans serviced. (Pl.'s Countercls., Ex. B, D.E. 58-3.) On September 14, 2016, Plaintiff's counterclaims were dismissed with prejudice. (Sept. 14, 2016 Dismissal Order, Ex. C, D.E. 58-4.)

As to Donovan's claims against Plaintiff, the parties negotiated a settlement memorialized in a consent judgment entered on August 3, 2017. (Aug. 3, 2017 Consent J., Ex. D, D.E. 58-5.) Pursuant to the consent judgment: (1) Plaintiff agreed to remove all his internet postings referencing Navient, its employees and affiliates, including Donovan, and SRSY and its attorneys and

Page 4

employees (see id. at ¶ 2); and (2) Plaintiff was permanently enjoined from: (a) posting anything on the internet or otherwise publishing information concerning any of the parties with limited exceptions (see id. at ¶ 3), (b) contacting Donovan in any manner, or harassing, defaming or threatening him, and from interfering in his employment relationship with Navient (see id. at ¶¶ 4, 5); (c) communicating with Navient or any person employed by, or affiliated with Navient, with the limited exception regarding e-mail correspondence to Navient concerning legitimate inquiries regarding any of his student loans that were being serviced by Navient (see id. at ¶ 8); and (d) calling SRSY or any employees of SRSY (see id. at ¶ 7).

B. Instant Complaint

On April 11, 2018, Edelman filed a complaint in this Court against the Government (see D.E. 1) and, then, on July 3, 2018, he commenced a separate action against Navient, SRSY and Donovan (see D.E. 5 (Notice of Related Case)). On November 14, 2018, among other things, the Court ordered Plaintiff's two cases be consolidated. (Nov. 14, 2018 Elec. Order). Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against all Defendants on December 12, 2018. (D.E. 15.) Thereafter, he was permitted to file a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") (see June 10, 2019 Elec. Order), which Edelman did on June 24, 2019. (See D.E. 43.)

Page 5

On September 27, 2019, the Federal Defendants and the Non-Federal Defendants each moved to dismiss the SAC. (D.E. 54 ("Federal Dismissal Motion", D.E. 58 ("Non-Federal Dismissal Motion") (collectively, the "Dismissal Motions").) Plaintiff filed an omnibus opposition to the Dismissal Motions on October 28, 2019 (D.E. 62 ("Opposition")), and on November 8, 2019, the Federal Defendants and the Non-Federal Defendants filed their respective replies. (D.E. 63, 64.)

II. Factual Background2

Plaintiff's SAC raises thirty-eight counts related to his federal student loans, consisting of Federal Family Education Loans ("FFEL") and/or direct loans, which he obtained from the DOE between 2003 and 2011 to pay for his undergraduate and graduate

Page 6

studies (hereafter, the "Loans"). (SAC 25-32, 98-99.3) With two exceptions,4 the Loans were guaranteed by the DOE. (SAC 100-01.)

Pursuant to its contract with the DOE, Navient services federal student loans on behalf of the Government, including Plaintiff's Loans. (SAC 37-38, 125-27.) According to Plaintiff, as a loan servicer, Navient is responsible for managing borrowers' accounts; processing monthly payments; assisting borrowers' enrollment in alternative repayment plans; and communicating directly with borrowers about the repayment of their loans. (SAC 75-78.)

A. Alleged Conduct of the Non-Federal Defendants

Plaintiff's action is based on Navient's alleged refusal to service his Loans and claims that SRSY, Navient, and Donovan harassed and threatened Plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that issues first arose with Navient when it placed unauthorized forbearances on his account on March 5, 2012 and August 20, 2012. (SAC 195-98, 241-42.) Then, on October 30, 2014, Plaintiff was instructed by Donovan, an employee in Navient's Office of Corporate Security, that due to his voluminous and frequent calls to Navient, any

Page 7

inquiries Plaintiff had regarding his Loans should be directed solely to Donovan. (SAC 42-45; Ex. A, ¶¶ 2, 10, 11.) Plaintiff claims that Donovan provided Plaintiff with his (Donovan's) personal mobile number which he "falsely presented as a Navient business," and at times serviced Plaintiff's Loans via telephone. (SAC 42-45, 107-09.)

Plaintiff further alleges that at some point SRSY was hired by Navient to handle the servicing of Plaintiff's Loans. (SAC 39-41.) According to the SAC, Donovan, Navient and SSRY did not provide Plaintiff with a toll-free number to service his Loans and failed to respond to his voicemails and emails requesting loan information. (SAC 149-50, 154-56, 162-63, 658-59.)

In 2014, Plaintiff's Loans went into default, and the Non-Federal Defendants continued with the servicing of his Loans. (SAC 114-17.) Plaintiff allegedly filed a complaint against Navient with state senators on October 30, 2014. (SAC 246-47.) According to Plaintiff, shortly thereafter, Navient "initiated a campaign of harassment and intimidation directed at Plaintiff." (SAC 250-51.) Then, in 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Attorney General. (SAC 256-57.) He claims that Navient misinformed the DOE, the HESC, and the Attorney General that the unauthorized forbearance placed on his account had been removed. (SAC 199-210, 262-63, 266-68.) On November 27, 2014, Plaintiff requested that

Page 8

Navient provide him with its payment methods and fees, but it failed to respond. (SAC 272-74.)

Plaintiff claims that in December 2014, Donovan's behavior towards him caused Plaintiff to contact state and county police because he feared for the safety of his family. (SAC 286-89.) Plaintiff alleges that after he complained to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Navient and SRSY "went on a campaign of DOXXing" him.5 (SAC 310-27.) He claims that Navient continued to defame him, refused to provide him with a toll-free number or accept payments, and had "legal" handle his Loans in violation of the Higher Education Act ("HEA"). (SAC 306-08, Ex. 6.) Plaintiff alleges that in April 2015, both Navient and SRSY provided him with phone numbers that "fraudulently portrayed" themselves as the DOE. (SAC 331-40.)

Plaintiff claims that in July and September 2015 he sent Navient deferment requests which Navient refused to process stating that his account was "on freeze" and "should not be serviced." (SAC 342-49, 443-44.) Plaintiff claims that the DOE

Page 9

inquired about the freeze but that Navient denied Plaintiff's account was frozen. (SAC 356-57.) He also claims that he sent five payments to Navient in 2016 but that it refused to process them. (SAC 445-47.)

Plaintiff alleges that neither SRSY, Donovan, nor Navient responded to Plaintiff's June 3, 2017 request for loan service. (SAC 467-70.) He claims that Navient later denied having any knowledge of Donovan or SRSY servicing his Loans, and that SRSY told him that it had nothing to do with his Loans. (SAC 472-77.)...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT