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Marinkovic v. Osborne

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

April 19, 2019

Melvin Marinkovic
v.
Michael Osborne; Jason Osborne; Lisa Bloomfield; U.S. Dept. of Education; and Betsy DeVos, Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Education

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Andrea K. Johnstone United States Magistrate Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Melvin Marinkovic filed this action in forma pauperis, asserting several claims against: the principals of a student loan processor, the United States Department of Education, and the United States Secretary of Education, in connection with his attempt to consolidate old student loans and apply for new loans. His complaint is before this court for preliminary review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and LR 4.3(d)(2).

         Preliminary Review Standard

         The magistrate judge conducts a preliminary review of pleadings, like Marinkovic's, which are filed in forma pauperis. See LR 4.3(d). The magistrate judge may recommend to the district judge that one or more claims be dismissed if, among other things, the court lacks jurisdiction, a defendant is immune from the relief sought, or the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); LR 4.3(d). In conducting its preliminary review, the court construes pro se complaints liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). The complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). The court treats as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, and construes reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. See Ocasio-Hernández v. Fortuño-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011).

         Background[1]

         A. Allegations against non-government defendants

         Defendants Michael Osborne, Jason Osborne and Lisa Bloomfield are principal officers of Credit Adjustments, Inc. (“CAI”), a company that processes student loan collections, accommodations, and evaluations for future lending. At the direction of the defendant Department of Education (“DOE”), Marinkovic contacted CAI in the fall of 2018 about consolidating his outstanding student loans in order to qualify for additional lending and pursue graduate education.

         During a November 2018 phone call, CAI told plaintiff it had previously denied plaintiff's consolidation request because it had received unclear forms from DOE. During the same conversation, CAI reconsidered its position and told plaintiff it had approved consolidation and would send Marinkovic documentation to that effect. CAI also informed plaintiff that consolidation was contingent on his waiving any challenge to the $53, 000 student loan balance on DOE's records. After plaintiff told CAI that he would not waive any such challenge, CAI withdrew its consolidation offer.

         Marinkovic complained to the DOE, whose ombudsman directed CAI to reconsider its decision. Although CAI contacted plaintiff by letter with a request to call CAI, it neither responded to Marinkovic's phone calls nor to a “demand latter” Marinkovic sent in January 2019. Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit approximately one month later.

         B. Allegations against DOE and DOE Secretary DeVos

         Marinkovic sued the DOE and its Secretary more than forty years ago for failing to address or honor student loan deferment requests he submitted, and for failing to answer his correspondence demanding a review of certain charges. That lawsuit was dismissed, according to Marinkovic, because he failed to exhaust administrative remedies. The DOE has ignored Marinkovic's repeated requests for information throughout the intervening years. Marinkovic asserts that DOE's refusal to answer resulted is part of a vendetta in response to his original lawsuit. He further argues that his interaction with CAI - which he describes as DOE's agent - amounted to a “formal denial” of the administrative review referred to in his original lawsuit, and prevented him from completing his higher education plans, secure meaningful employment, and avoid poverty.

         Claims

         Marinkovic has sued CAI Chairman Michael Osborne, its President, Lisa Bloomfield, and its CEO, Jason Osborne (“the CAI defendants”), as well as the DOE and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. He asserts several constitutional claims and one state-law claim for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage against the CAI defendants. Marinkovic seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the DOE in order to discharge and remove his prior loans from default status and to declare unspecified DOE loan repayment rules void as applied. Finally, he asserts Bivens[2] claims Secretary ...


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