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Ford v. Bass and Associates, P.C.

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

October 15, 2019

ANGELES FORD, Plaintiff,
v.
BASS AND ASSOCIATES, P.C., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

          TILMAN E. SELF, III, JUDGE

         Defendant Educational Credit Management Corporation (“ECMC”) has moved for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) against Plaintiff Angeles Ford. See generally [Doc. 47]. Because the Court finds below that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against ECMC, it GRANTS ECMC's motion.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In her amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Helms Career Institute, an educational institution, forwarded evidence of a defaulted student loan in Plaintiff's name to the United States Department of Education for collection, even though Plaintiff never attended Helms as a student. [Doc. 16-1, ¶ 3]. According to Plaintiff, ECMC guaranteed the fraudulent loan and allegedly violated the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, 12 U.S.C. §§ 5301, et seq. (“Dodd-Frank”), [1" name= "FN1" id="FN1">1] Department of Education regulations, and the Higher Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1001, et seq. (“HEA”).[2] [Id. at ¶ 4]. Additionally, Plaintiff claims that all Defendants violated federal criminal provisions including 18 U.S.C. §§ 1002 (possessing false papers to defraud the United States) and 1028 (fraud in connection with identification documents). As a result of these actions, Plaintiff incurred a lien on her 2018 tax refund and has had to live with family and friends due to the hardship. [Id. at ¶¶ 2, 6]. Accordingly, she seeks $75, 000 in damages. [Id. at ¶ 6].

         In its instant motion for judgment on the pleadings, ECMC argues that Plaintiff has no private right of action to enforce federal criminal statutes, the HEA, or Dodd-Frank, and that Plaintiff has failed to state a fraud claim. Plaintiff did not respond to ECMC's motion. Upon review, the Court agrees with each of ECMC's arguments and grants its motion.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when there are no material facts in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Douglas Asphalt Co. v. Qore, Inc., 541 F.3d 1269, 1273 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Cannon v. City of W. Palm Beach, 1299');">250 F.3d 1299, 1301 (11th Cir. 2001)). “A motion for judgment on the pleadings is subject to the same standard as is a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.” Provident Mut. Life Ins. Co. of Phila. v. City of Atlanta, 1274');">864 F.Supp. 1274, 1278 (N.D.Ga. 1994).

         When ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept the facts set forth in the complaint as true. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 572 (2007). A complaint survives a motion to dismiss only if the plaintiff alleges sufficient factual matter to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face, and he must state more than “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusations.” McCullough v. Finley, 1324');">907 F.3d 1324, 1333 (11th Cir. 2018) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009)). He must also “plead more than labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” id., such that the factual allegations contained in the complaint are “enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         When assessing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court employs a two-step framework. McCullough, 907 F.3d at 1333. First, the Court identifies and disregards allegations that are “no more than mere conclusions, ” since “[c]onclusory allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Second, the Court “assume[s] any remaining factual allegations are true and determine[s] whether those factual allegations ‘plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         B. Plaintiff's Claims under Criminal Statutes, the HEA, and Dodd-Frank

         ECMC first argues that Plaintiff has no private right of action under the stated provisions of the federal criminal code, the HEA, or Dodd-Frank. The Court has already determined that the HEA and the federal criminal code provide no private right of action:

Helms argues that the complaint states no basis for federal question jurisdiction since there are no private rights of action under the stated provisions of the federal criminal code and the HEA. This is undoubtedly true. See Collins v. Bates, No. 17-14559- G, 2018 WL 5090845, at *7 (11th Cir. May 10, 2018) (explaining that federal criminal statutes do not create a private right of civil action absent “clear evidence” of Congress' intent for them to do so) accord House v. Hastings, No. 91 Civ. 3780 (JSM), 1992 WL 44370, at *1 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 21, 1992) (no private right of action under 18 U.S.C. § 1002) and Garay v. U.S. Bancorp, 303 F.Supp.2d 299, 302 (E.D.N.Y. 2004) (no private right of action under 18 U.S.C. § 1028). See also Cliff v. Payco Gen. Am. Credits, Inc., 1113');">363 F.3d 1113, 1123 (11th Cir. 2004) (“[T]he HEA expressly empowers only the Secretary of ...

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