Posts tagged "Higher"

Commonwealth v. Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (Lawyers Weekly No. 09-019-18)

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS SUFFOLK, ss. SUPERIOR COURT. 1784CV02682-BLS2 ____________________ COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS v. PENNSYLVANIA HIGHER EDUCATION ASSISTANCE AGENCY d/b/a FedLoan Servicing ____________________ MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has sued the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) for engaging in allegedly unfair and deceptive acts and practices against Massachusetts student loan borrowers. It appears to be undisputed that PHEAA, although originally established to help provide student loans and grants for Pennsylvania residents, has become one of the largest student loan servicers in the country and now manages the federal student loan accounts of hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents under a contract with the United States Department of Education. The Commonwealth claims that PHEAA violated the federal Consumer Financial Protection Act and G.L. c. 93A by charging and collecting amounts not owed by borrowers, failing to process borrowers’ applications for income driven repayment plans in a timely and accurate manner, and failing to properly count borrowers’ qualifying payments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. PHEAA has moved to dismiss this action on several grounds. The Court will DENY this motion because it is not convinced that PHEAA is an arm of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and shares in its sovereign immunity, that PHEAA cannot be sued under G.L. c. 93A or that its alleged misconduct is exempt from c. 93A because it is affirmatively permitted by federal law, or that the United States Department of Education is an indispensable party. 1. Background—PHEAA’s Enabling Act. Certain aspects of the enabling act that created PHEAA provide background relevant to PHEAA’s claims that it is entitled to invoke the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s sovereign immunity and that it cannot be sued under G.L. c. 93A because it is a public entity. – 2 – PHEAA was established by the Pennsylvania Legislature as “a public corporation and government instrumentality.” 24 Pa. Stat. § 5101. It is authorized to make, guarantee, and service student loans. Id. § 5104(3). By statute, PHEAA has substantial financial and operational independence from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PHEAA can spend money “for any of its purposes” without needing any legislative appropriation. Id. § 5104(3). Although PHEAA must deposit its revenues “in the State Treasury,” it may use its funds whenever it wants “at the discretion of the board of directors for carrying out any of the corporate purposes of the agency.” Id.; see also id. § 5105.10 (PHEAA’s loan servicing, loan repayment, and other revenues are held within State Treasury in a segregated “Educational Loan Assistance Fund,” are all “appropriated to [PHEAA’s] board,” and “may be applied and reapplied as the board shall direct and shall not be subject to lapsing”). And PHEAA may […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 1, 2018 at 7:48 pm

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Massachusetts Community College Council v. Massachusetts Board of Higher Education/Roxbury Community College (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-128-13)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750;  (617) 557-1030;         SJC‑11250   MASSACHUSETTS COMMUNITY COLLEGE COUNCIL  vs.  MASSACHUSETTS BOARD OF HIGHER EDUCATION/ROXBURY COMMUNITY COLLEGE. Suffolk.     March 5, 2013.  ‑  July 12, 2013. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ. Arbitration, Confirmation of award, Collective bargaining.  Education, Public colleges and universities.  Public Employment, Collective bargaining.  Labor, Arbitration, Collective bargaining, Public employment.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on November 10, 2009.   The case was heard by Kimberly S. Budd, J.   After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.     Will Evans for the plaintiff. Carol Wolff Fallon for the defendant. Deirdre Heatwole & Joseph Ambash, for University of Massachusetts, amicus curiae, submitted a brief. James B. Cox, Special Assistant Attorney General, & Alison Little Sabatello, for Bridgewater State University & others, amici curiae, submitted a brief.       BOTSFORD, J.  The plaintiff Massachusetts Community College Council (union) and the defendant Massachusetts Board of Higher Education/Roxbury Community College (college) were parties to a collective bargaining agreement (agreement) containing a provision that “[t]he granting or failure to grant tenure shall be arbitrable but any award is not binding.”  After a professor, who was a member of the union, was denied tenure at the college, the union submitted his grievance to arbitration.  An arbitrator concluded that the college violated the terms of the agreement, and ordered as a remedy that the professor be reinstated to his position, and that he be eligible for a new evaluation and tenure review process.  A judge in the Superior Court affirmed the arbitrator’s award.  The judge reasoned that the issue before the arbitrator was the manner in which the professor was reviewed and considered for tenure, not the substantive tenure decision itself, and that the arbitrator’s decision was binding on the college.  The college appealed, and the Appeals Court concluded that under the “clear language” of the above-quoted provision of the agreement, the arbitrator’s award was not binding on the college, and therefore the judge erred in confirming the arbitrator’s award under G. L. c. 150C, § 10.  Massachusetts Community College Council v. Massachusetts Bd. of Higher Educ./Roxbury Community College, 81 Mass. App. Ct. 554, 562-563 (2012) (Massachusetts Community College Council).  We also conclude that the Superior Court judgment must be reversed.   Background.  On January 8, […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - July 12, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Categories: News   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,