Jones v. U.S. Department of Education et al
ORDER Adopting 48 Report and Recommendation, Overruling Plaintiff's Objections, Granting 30 Motion to Dismiss, 41 Motion for Summary Judgment, 43 Motion to Dismiss and Dismissing Case. Signed by District Judge David M. Lawson. (SPin)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
SHARON DENISE JONES,
Case Number 15-10171
Honorable David M. Lawson
Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY, PIONEER
CREDIT RECOVERY, INC., APRIL
EWING-MILES, and ARNE DUNCAN,
ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION, OVERRULING PLAINTIFF’S OBJECTIONS,
GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND DISMISSING CASE
Plaintiff Sharon Denise Jones filed a lengthy complaint that sought to challenge certain
efforts by the defendants to collect delinquent student loans that the plaintiff incurred while
attending the Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan. The Court referred this case
to Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti for pretrial management. Thereafter, the defendants filed
various motions to dismiss. Judge Patti filed a report recommending that the motions be denied
without prejudice and the plaintiff be given an opportunity to file an amended complaint, so that she
could cure several defects in her pleading, which the magistrate judge outlined in detail. The
plaintiff filed an amended complaint. The defendants once again responded with motions to dismiss.
Defendants Wayne State University and April Ewing-Miles filed a motion to dismiss under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defendants United States Department of Education and Arne
Duncan filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) and for summary judgment under Rule 56;
and defendant Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc. filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
Judge Patti filed a report on February 12, 2017 recommending that all the motions be granted
and the plaintiff be denied another opportunity to amend her complaint further. The report, which
runs 51 pages, discusses the 20-page amended complaint in great detail. The amended complaint
contains a few facts, several conculsory statements, and some citations of legal authority. But it
does not state any causes of action specifically, and it is not divided into counts. Nor does it allege
particularized wrongdoing against individual defendants.
The magistrate judge bravely attempted to deconstruct the statements in the amended
complaint and map them onto possible causes of action. He understood the plaintiff to be
complaining about the involuntary application of certain of her tax refunds to her student loan
obligations, her perceived lack of an effective forum to challenge the fact and amount of the debt,
and that the defendants waited too long to enforce the debt. With generous indulgence, he identified
possible causes of action, and then explained why the facts he could extract from the amended
complaint would not support those potential claims. Ultimately, the magistrate judge concluded that
the amended complaint failed to state any viable claims, and allowing plaintiff yet another chance
to amend her complaint would be futile.
The plaintiff filed objections on February 27, 2017. But the objections do not take issue with
any specific finding by the magistrate judge. Instead, the plaintiff acknowledges that she is
“medically unable to plead and litigate her claims to a standard that would satisfy the court.” She
then asks the Court to “allow her to provide documentation of those disabilities from medical
physicians, and appoint to Plaintiff counsel rather than dismiss the case.” She also asks “de novo
review of the Report and Recommendation.”
The Court sees no basis to appoint counsel. “‘[A]ppointment of counsel in a civil case is . . .
a matter within the discretion of the court. It is a privilege not a right.’” Childs v. Pellegrin, 822
F.2d 1382, 1384 (6th Cir. 1987) (quoting United States v. Madden, 352 F.2d 792, 793 (9th Cir.
1965)). The plaintiff has offered no convincing reason why the Court should exercise its
discretionary power at this time. She is a law school graduate and, in fact, a member of the Bar.
Despite her failure to take her cues from the magistrate judge’s previous report that provided critical
advice for amending her complaint, she has not exhibited any deficit that would prevent her from
pursuing her own claims.
It is true that objections to a report and recommendation are given fresh review. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1). But “[o]verly general objections do not satisfy the objection requirement.” Spencer
v. Bouchard, 449 F.3d 721, 725 (6th Cir. 2006). “The objections must be clear enough to enable the
district court to discern those issues that are dispositive and contentious.” Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d
373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995).
“‘[O]bjections disput[ing] the correctness of the magistrate’s
recommendation but fail[ing] to specify the findings . . . believed [to be] in error’ are too general.”
Spencer, 449 F.3d at 725 (quoting Miller, 50 F.3d at 380).
As the Sixth Circuit has explained, “[t]he filing of objections provides the district court with
the opportunity to consider the specific contentions of the parties and to correct any errors
immediately,” United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947, 950 (6th Cir. 1981), enabling the court “to
focus attention on those issues — factual and legal — that are at the heart of the parties’ dispute,”
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985). As a result, “‘[o]nly those specific objections to the
magistrate’s report made to the district court will be preserved for appellate review; making some
objections but failing to raise others will not preserve all the objections a party may have.’”
McClanahan v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830, 837 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting Smith v. Detroit
Fed’n of Teachers Local 231, 829 F.2d 1370, 1373 (6th Cir. 1987)).
The plaintiff has not identified any part of the report and recommendation with which she
finds fault. The Court has reviewed the amended complaint, the motions and response, and the
report and recommendation, and finds that the plaintiff has not stated any claims in her amended
complaint for which relief can be granted. Because the plaintiff has failed to object to the report and
recommendation in any meaningful way, she has not persuaded the Court that it should upset the
recommendation to dismiss her case for failure to state a claim.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation [dkt.
#48] is ADOPTED, and the plaintiff’s objections [dkt. #49] are OVERRULED.
It is further ORDERED that the motion to dismiss by defendants Wayne State University
and April Ewing-Miles [dkt. #30] is GRANTED.
It is further ORDERED that the motion for summary judgment by defendants United States
Department of Education and Arne Duncan [dkt. #41] is GRANTED.
It is further ORDERED that defendant Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc.’s motion to dismiss
[dkt. #43] is GRANTED.
It is further ORDERED that case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
s/David M. Lawson
DAVID M. LAWSON
United States District Judge
Dated: March 6, 2017
PROOF OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that a copy of the foregoing order was served
upon each attorney or party of record herein by electronic means or first
class U.S. mail on March 6, 2017.
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