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United States v. Brow

December 7, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RONALD A. BROW, DEFENDANT.
RONALD A. BROW, THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF,
v.
RUTGERS, STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY, THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Townes, United States District Judge*fn1

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

On March 28, 2005, Plaintiff, the United States of America (the "Government"), filed two actions (the "1607 Action" and the "1609 Action") against pro se Defendant, Ronald Brow, alleging that Mr. Brow failed to re-pay two separate government-guaranteed federal student loans that Mr. Brow obtained while attending Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey ("Rutgers"). On October 3, 2005, Mr. Brow filed identical third-party complaints against Rutgers in both actions. Rutgers now moves for judgment on the pleadings with respect to both third-party complaints pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) and to dismiss these complaints pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(2). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will convert Rutgers' motion for judgment on the pleadings into a motion for summary judgment with respect to Mr. Brow's claims arising under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act.

BACKGROUND

Pro se Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff Ronald Brow attended Rutgers' Livingston College in Piscataway, New Jersey, as an undergraduate student between 1978 and 1983. During Mr. Brow's time at Rutgers, he applied for and received several student loans. (See Certificates of Indebtedness ("Cert. of Indebt.")). Rutgers, in turn, made the loans under the National Direct Student Loan program, which is now known as the Federal Perkins Student Loan program. (Cert. of Indebt.).

Mr. Brow defaulted on his student loans in 1984, and Rutgers subsequently assigned all its rights and title to Mr. Brow's loans to the Department of Education on April 19, 1991. (Cert. of Indebt.). On March 28, 2005, the Government commenced the 1607 Action and the 1609 Action against Mr. Brow, alleging that the Government had demanded payment of Mr. Brow's debts, and that Mr. Brow "neglected and refused to pay the same." (Complaint for 1607 Action ¶ 4; Complaint for 1609 Action ¶ 4). The Government sought the current principal due, the interest accrued, administrative fees, costs, penalties, and attorneys' fees. (Complaint for 1607 Action ¶¶ 3-4; Complaint for 1609 Action ¶¶ 3-4). The Government has been awarded judgment in its 1607 and 1609 Actions against Mr. Brow. (See Default Judgment, dated March 30, 2006).

The Third-Party Complaints

In October 2005, Mr. Brow filed third-party complaints in both the 1607 Action and the 1609 Action against Rutgers. These two complaints, which are essentially identical, consist of six numbered paragraphs which are largely devoid of dates or factual allegations.

(See 1607 Action Third-Party Complaint; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint). Indeed, with the exception of the allegations relating to a February 2005 subpoena, the allegations in the third-party complaints are so conclusory and vague as to make it impossible to discern the factual basis for Mr. Brow's third-party claims.

The first two paragraphs of the third-party complaints suggest that Rutgers has willfully or negligently misreported the amount Mr. Brow owes on the loans at issue. (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶¶ 1-2; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶¶ 1-2). In the first paragraph, Mr. Brow alleges that Rutgers has "fail[ed] to notify... the Government of the proper financial records," and that this "has caused damage to [third-party] plaintiff['s] financial reputation." (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 1; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 1). The second paragraph alleges that Rutgers has caused, and continues to cause, "harm [to] plaintiff['s] financial status" by wilfully or negligently "reporting... incorrect financial information" to credit agencies "in violation of the Fair Credit [R]eporting [A]ct." (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 2; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 2). However, the f-irst two paragraphs contain neither dates nor specific factual allegations, making it impossible to define what actions or omissions give rise to Mr. Brow's claims. (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶¶ 1-2; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶¶ 1-2).

The third paragraph of Mr. Brow's third-party complaints suggests that Rutgers engaged in some sort of "fraud and/or negligence" with respect to the "improper disbursement" of federally guaranteed loans. (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 3; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 3). This paragraph further alleges that Rutgers is engaging in "ongoing and continuing actions to coverup or withhold evidence" of these improper practices. (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 3; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 3).

Since this third paragraph, like the first two, contains no dates or specific factual allegations, it is entirely unclear what fraudulent or negligent practices are being alleged. (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 3; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 3).

The fourth and sixth paragraphs of Mr. Brow's third-party complaints suggest that Rutgers has improperly failed to comply with a court-ordered subpoena. (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶¶ 4, 6; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶¶ 4, 6). In the fourth paragraph, Mr. Brow alleges that on February 24, 2005, he served Rutgers with a subpoena for an unspecified "police report and public record." (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 4; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 4). In the sixth paragraph, Mr. Brow states that, in a letter dated March 28, 2005, Rutgers' counsel declined to comply with the subpoena, opining that the subpoena was "not valid in New Jersey." (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 6; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶6).

Although these five paragraphs are not models of clarity, the fifth paragraph of Mr. Brow's third-party complaints is even more incomprehensible. (1607 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 5; 1609 Action Third-Party Complaint ¶ 5). This paragraph alleges:

That through its breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and/or negligence of the improper disbursement of funds and to maintain due diligence to record and account for such funds... Rutgers... is liable for funds disbursed without specific performance warrantied for said purpose and is owing the plaintiff under the ...


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