United States of America v. Sochacki
ORDER Denying Request for Hearing. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (SBur)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No. 11-14146
MINNY S. SOCHACKI; WEATHERGARD
WINDOW COMPANY, INC.,
ORDER DENYING REQUEST FOR HEARING
Pending before the court is Defendant Minny S. Sochacki’s “Request for Hearing
About the Garnishment and Claim for Exemptions,” filed on November 16, 2016. (Dkt.
#15.) Plaintiff has responded in opposition to the request (Dkt. #17.) The court had
provisionally scheduled a hearing for January 9, 2017. For the following reasons, the
court will deny the request and cancel the scheduled hearing.
Plaintiff brought this action on September 22, 2011, to recover amounts due on a
guaranteed student loan. On November 2, 2011, Plaintiff obtained a Clerk’s Entry of
Judgment by Default. (Dkt. #7.) Plaintiff obtained two Writs of Continuing Garnishment
against potential sources of funds, including the Michigan Department of Treasury, (Dkt.
#11), and Ms. Sochcki’s employer, Weathergard Window Company, Inc., (Dkt. #14). To
date, the parties have reached three separate arrangements to resolve the outstanding
debt, with Defendant twice agreeing to make payments of $100 per month, (Dkts. ##172, 17-3), then agreeing to make payments of $65 per month, (Dkt. #17-4). In its brief,
Plaintiff claims that after each agreement, Defendant would eventually once again fail to
make payments, and that it has not received a voluntary payment since November
2015. (Dkt. #17, Pg. ID 61.)
On November 16, 2016, Defendant filed a Request for Hearing with the court
accompanied by a signed letter explaining her initial confusion as to the nature of the
loan, financial hardship, and willingness to “settle on the amount of 2,158.10 [dollars]
and make 200.00 dollar payment[s] a month.” (Dkt. #15, Pg. ID 51.) Plaintiff filed a
response, arguing that this does not constitute a valid objection to a garnishment, and
that Defendant’s filing, even if construed as a request for the court to enter an
installment payment order, lacks the factual support–specifically an affidavit–required by
applicable state and federal procedural rules. Thereafter, Weathergard Window
Company, Inc., filed its Answer, which indicated that 25% of the applicable disposable
earnings, and thus the amount subject to garnishment, totaled $51.27 per week. (Dkt.
#20, Pg. ID 71.)
Setting aside the question of whether a signed, handwritten letter could satisfy
the requirements of a request for an installment payment order, the court will deny
Defendant’s underlying request on its merits. The amount that would be garnished from
Defendant’s wages is only very slightly more than what she is proposing to pay
voluntarily. Given the relatively small outstanding balance–“$967 including costs and
interest computed through October 20, 2016[,]” according to the most recent writ of
continuing garnishment (Dkt. #14.)–the difference in Defendant’s proposal and the likely
garnishment will persist only for a few months. Defendant has evidently struggled to
make voluntary payments of even $65.00 per month, though Plaintiff’s brief indicated a
willingness to continue settlement discussions.
Therefore, even if construed as an affidavit, Defendant’s letter does not
constitute evidence of financial hardship. Nor has Defendant supplied any other
evidence as to her challenge of the validity of the underlying debt. In any case, that
question was resolved by the Clerk’s Entry of Default. Thus, no hearing is necessary.
See United States v. Jordan, No. 04-71107, 2009 WL 1138134, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Apr.
27, 2009) (ruling that “[a] garnishment hearing is simply unnecessary in the absence of
any evidence . . .”). To the extent that it is construed as an objection to the garnishment
or a request for an installment payment order, the court will deny Defendant’s request.
However, in an abundance of caution, it will do so without prejudice in the event that
Defendant is able to marshal evidence which supports her position.
IT IS ORDERED that Defendant’s Request for Hearing About the Garnishment
and Claim for Exemptions (Dkt. #15) is DENIED without prejudice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the hearing currently scheduled for January 9,
2017, is CANCELLED.
s/Robert H. Cleland
ROBERT H. CLELAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: January 5, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of record
on this date, January 5, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
s/Shawna C. Burns
Case Manager Generalist
Q:\Cleland\JUDGE'S DESK\C2 ORDERS\11-14146.SOCHACKI-SPARKS.Garnishment.bss.wpd
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?