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National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2005-2 v. Henderson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 28, 2018

NATIONAL COLLEGIATE STUDENT LOAN TRUST 2005-2 Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
VICTORIA HENDERSON, CAROLYN HENDERSON Defendants-Appellants NATIONAL COLLEGIATE STUDENT LOAN TRUST 2004-2 Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
VICTORIA HENDERSON CAROLYN HENDERSON Defendants-Appellants

         Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court Nos. 571, 179 and 571, 383

         Honorable Craig O. Marcotte, Judge (No. 571, 179) Honorable Michael A. Pitman, Judge (No. 571, 383)

          ERNEST H. GILLIAM, III Counsel for Appellants

          EATON GROUP ATTORNEYS, L.L.C. By: Gregory M. Eaton Kevin J. Gillie April F. Jackson Michael L. Lancaster Counsel for Appellee

          Before WILLIAMS, MOORE, and GASKINS (Ad Hoc), JJ.

          WILLIAMS, J.

         In these consolidated cases, the district courts granted summary judgments in favor of the plaintiffs, National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2005-2 and National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2004-2. The defendants, Victoria Henderson and Carolyn Henderson, appeal. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         In 2004 and 2005, the defendants, Victoria Henderson ("Victoria") and Carolyn Henderson ("Carolyn"), obtained multiple Education One Undergraduate Loans issued through Bank One, N.A.[1] Victoria is Carolyn's daughter and the loans were obtained to pay for Victoria's college education.[2] At some point, the loans were sold or transferred to National Collegiate Student Loan Trust ("National Collegiate"). In 2009, Carolyn began repaying one of the loans; she began repaying the other loan in 2010. In July 2012, Carolyn checked her credit report, which, according to her, reflected that the loans had been "paid in full" in September 2009.[3] At that point, Carolyn stopped making payments because she erroneously believed that her debt had been either "forgiven" or "paid off." However, a closer review of Carolyn's credit report revealed that the loans had, in fact, been "charged off" and "transferred to recovery."

         In December 2012, the Eaton Group Attorneys, LLC, the law firm that represents National Collegiate, informed Victoria and Carolyn that the balances on the loans were still due. According to Carolyn, she was confused because she had never entered into a loan agreement with National Collegiate, and she was unaware that the loans had been transferred to that entity. Nevertheless, after further discussions, Carolyn began making payments to the Eaton Group in July 2013.[4]

         On September 6, 2013, the plaintiff, National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2005-2 ("Case No. 1"), filed a lawsuit against Victoria and Carolyn, to collect on an "open student loan account" in the amount of $42, 595.75, "together with accrued interest of $5, 797.78, in addition to interest from the date of judgment and attorney fees in the amount of 25% of the total of both principal and interest, and all costs of these proceedings, subject to a credit of $50.00." The defendants were served with the petition, along with requests for admission of facts.

         Subsequently, on September 16, 2013, the plaintiff, National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2004-2 ("Case No. 2"), filed another lawsuit against the defendants to collect on an alleged "open student loan account" "in the full sum of $32, 578.31, together with accrued interest of $4, 916.11, " in addition to interest from the date of judgment and attorney fees "in the amount of 25% of the total of both principal and interest, and all costs of these proceedings, subject to a credit of $50.00." The defendants were also served with this petition, along with requests for admission of facts.[5]

         Thereafter, the defendants, appearing in proper person, filed answers to the petitions, generally denying the facts alleged therein. Thereafter, the plaintiffs propounded interrogatories in both cases, with which the defendants were served. Initially, the defendants did not answer requests for discovery. Rather, Carolyn mailed correspondence to the Eaton Group to support her contention that the loans and been "paid in full."

         Subsequently, Carolyn Henderson responded to interrogatories propounded as follows:

NOTE INTERROGATORIES
***

I. The creditor indicates a balance on the note of $32, 578.31 as of May 8, 2013. Do your records reflect otherwise and if so, please describe.

Answer: Yes. I have already forwarded you the updated documents.
II. The creditor indicates that all funds described in the note were advanced. Do your records reflect otherwise and if so, please describe.
Answer: Yes. I have already forwarded you the updated documents.
III. The creditor indicates that all payments and credits have been applied to the balance. Do your records reflect otherwise and if so, please describe.
Answer: I agree with creditor that all payments and credits have been applied to balance, which the current balance is 0 on all 3 accts, which my records reflect.
IV. The note includes various terms, including provision for interest and attorneys fees as reflected in the petition. These terms were agreed upon when you signed the note. Please fully describe any terms which you feel are not accurately reflected in the petition, full detail the suggested accurate terms; and describe and attach any document which substantiates an agreement as to any different terms.
Answer: All three accounts are paid in full. Denies any and all attorney fees.

         However, the defendants did not file any answers to requests for discovery filed in regard to Case No. 1. Additionally, the defendants did not respond to requests for admissions of fact in either case.

         On January 16, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, a motion to compel answers to discovery. A hearing was set for April 27, 2015. However, the defendants obtained counsel, who filed a motion to enroll on April 10, 2015. Thereafter, the defendants filed a motion to continue the hearing; the motion to continue was granted and the matter was "to be set at a later date." On June 16, 2015, the defendants' attorney filed a motion to withdraw. The district court granted the motion to withdraw and granted to the defendants "sixty (60) days to obtain new counsel." Consequently, the plaintiffs' first motions for summary judgment/motions to compel answers to discovery were not heard.

         On September 10, 2015, the plaintiffs filed another motion for summary judgment/motion to compel in both cases. With regard to Case No. 1, the plaintiffs submitted the following documents in support of the motion for summary judgment:

The petitions and the defendants' answers to the petitions;
Discovery requests (requests for admission of facts, requests for genuineness of documents, requests for production of documents, note interrogatories and domestic interrogatories);
Multiple letters to the defendants regarding Rule 10.1 conferences and requesting ...

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