United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
WILLIE HENDERSON, individually and behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
GENERAL REVENUE CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
Glen E. Conrad, Senior United States District Judge
August 20, 2019, the parties appeared before the court for a
hearing on pending motions. This memorandum opinion sets
forth the court's rulings on certain issues raised by the
22, 2017, plaintiff Willie Henderson filed the instant action
against General Revenue Corporation ("GRC"),
alleging that GRC violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692p,
in its efforts to collect student loan debts from Henderson
and others similarly situated. Because the loans at issue
originated under the Federal Family Education Loan Program,
they are governed by federal regulations adopted under the
Higher Education Act. Henderson's original complaint was
based on a letter dated February 7, 2017, in which GRC
advised Henderson that he had defaulted on his student loan
debt and owed over $100, 000 in principal, interest, and
collection costs. Henderson alleged, among other claims, that
GRC violated the FDCPA in sending the letter because GRC had
not made disclosures required under the applicable
December 21, 2017, the court granted Henderson's motion
for leave to file an amended complaint. The amended complaint
included additional facts regarding GRC's alleged
violations of the FDCPA. It also added claims against a new
defendant, Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc.
("Pioneer"), stemming from Pioneer's
communications with Henderson, which included a garnishment
January 10, 2018, Henderson moved to compel GRC to respond to
his discovery requests. The court subsequently referred all
non-dispositive pretrial motions, including the motion to
compel, to United States Magistrate Judge Robert S. Ballou
for disposition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).
On March 12, 2018, the motion to compel was granted in part
and denied in part by Judge Ballou.
meantime, GRC and Pioneer moved to dismiss certain counts of
the amended complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). The court referred
the motion to dismiss to Judge Ballou for a report and
recommendation under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). On
September 25, 2018, the court adopted Judge Ballou's
report and recommendation, and denied the defendants'
partial motion to dismiss.
parties proceeded with discovery, including the depositions
of GRC and Pioneer under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
30(b)(6). Prior to the depositions, GRC and Pioneer lodged
objections to the topics identified in the respective
deposition notices. The parties were unable to resolve the
objections on their own. The record indicates that Judge
Ballou "offered an informal resolution process,"
and that Henderson, GRC, and Pioneer ultimately
"conferred with [Judge Ballou] at length on each
objection." Pl's Br. Supp. Mot. Sanctions 2-3, n.2,
Dkt. No. 141. The Rule 30(b)(6) depositions of GRC and
Pioneer were conducted in December of 2018.
February 4, 2019, Henderson moved for leave to file a second
amended complaint, which added Navient Portfolio Management,
LLC ("NPM") as a defendant and asserted claims of
vicarious liability against NPM. The court granted
Henderson's motion on March 21, 2019. On April 22, 2019,
GRC, Pioneer, and NPM filed their respective answers to the
second amended complaint.
29, 2019, the parties appeared before the court for a hearing
on the plaintiffs amended motion for class certification.
During the hearing, the defendants advised that they intended
to move for summary judgment on the class claims asserted in
the second amended complaint. The court elected to postpone
ruling on the class-certification motion pending the
resolution of the defendants' forthcoming motion for
parties then filed the following motions that are now pending
before the court: (1) plaintiffs motion to compel NPM to
respond to discovery requests; (2) plaintiffs motion for
sanctions; (3) plaintiffs motion for partial summary judgment
on defendants' affirmative defenses or, in the
alternative, motion to strike defendants' affirmative
defenses or, in the further alternative, motion to strike
NPM's third and fifth affirmative defenses; and (4)
defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. The
parties appeared before the court for a hearing on these
motions on August 20, 2019.
Motion to Compel and ...