In the Department of Education (ED) case that becomes more bizarre by the week, Continental Service Group Inc. et al. v. The United States has been reassigned from Judge Susan G. Braden to Judge Thomas C. Wheeler.
The Transfer Order, filed yesterday and signed by Chief Judge Susan G. Braden, simply says,
For the efficient administration of justice, the Clerk of Court is directed to transfer the above-captioned cases to the Honorable Thomas C. Wheeler, pursuant to the Rule of the United States Court of Federal Claims 40.1(b).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
And so begins (maybe?) a new chapter in the ongoing case of the ED private debt collection contract. Judge Braden has appeared to struggle with this case from the beginning, at times issuing orders based on news reports, at times appearing defensive by ordering small details to be entered into the formal record, and at times appearing to engage in a battle of wits with the Department of Education.
In a recent update on the case we said,
This is a little like seeing a junior high school argument play out in slow motion, in writing, with a lot left unsaid. ED concluded its update with this: "As stated in our August 4, 2017, August 24, 2017 and September 14, 2017 status reports, this corrective action is a top priority of Federal Student Aid, and ED is working diligently to complete the corrective action."
The prior update included "Defendant respectfully requests that it be allowed to file a status report on..." This latest update includes no such respectful request.
One can only imagine Judge Braden's response. Where to now? Will she set another new date? Order ED to show up in court and provide more specifics?
Well, now we know the response: Let's see if someone else can sort it out.
Meanwhile, because of Judge Braden's May 31, 2017 injunction, accounts entering default continue to sit. Consumers are confused. Deadlines are being missed. Jobs are likely being lost. Perhaps Judge Wheeler will be able to sort it out.
Editor’s Note: See here for a link to an insideARM page that provides a history of our ED-related articles. The page is automatically updated as new stories are written.