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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Judge Says Government Is Immune From Debt Claim

(CN) - A Washington, D.C., federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the Department of Education in which the student-loan borrower claimed violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

LaBonnie Allen borrowed money through two student loans, called Parent Plus Loans, for her daughter's education. She claimed the Department of Education failed to provide her with balance information on the loans, would not verify of the debt and called her at work, in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

"Because the FDCPA claims are barred by sovereign immunity, those claims will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction," U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer wrote.

While debt collectors that do not comply with FDCPA are subject to liability, but "the United States and its agencies are immune from suit," Collyer wrote.

The judge added that the term debt collector is defined to exclude government employees collecting on a debt.

Allen also sought relief under the Freedom of Information Act, claiming that the Department of Education failed to respond to her letter requesting all documentation pertaining to her Parent Plus Loans.

Collyer dismissed Allen's claim because she "has not alleged that she made a formal FOIA request," and the Department of Education "has not been able to locate any FOIA request submitted by Ms. Allen."

If Allen had made the request, "it would have to be dismissed as moot, because the government provided all relevant documents to Ms. Allen," Collyer wrote.

Allen alleged that four student loans show up on her credit report though she only took out two student loans.

"Ms. Allen misapprehends her credit report," Collyer wrote. "Premiere Credit is attempting to collect the two outstanding loans from the U.S. Department of Education, not the two Direct Loan SVC System loans that are listed with a $0 balance."

Collyer also dismissed several of Allen's claims for failure to state a claim for relief, noting that Allen explained in those areas that she lost her job as a teacher to explain why she owed on the student loans.

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