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National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2007-4 v. Hanson

Supreme Court of Montana

April 16, 2019

NATIONAL COLLEGIATE STUDENT LOAN TRUST 2007-4, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
MONICA J. HANSON, Defendant and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: February 6, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause No. DV 14-398 Honorable Donald L. Harris, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Clifton G. Rodenburg, Stephanie R. Hayden; Rodenburg Law Firm, Fargo, North Dakota

          For Appellee: Monica J. Hanson, self-represented, Billings, Montana

          OPINION

          Dirk Sandefur Justice.

         ¶1 Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.

         ¶2 Plaintiff National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2007-4 (NCSLT) appeals from a judgment of the Montana Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County, imposing sanctions on adjudicated violations of M. R. Civ. P. 11. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

         ¶3 On March 13, 2014, NCSLT, by and through counsel Stephanie Hayden of the Rodenburg Law Firm, filed a complaint against Monica J. Hanson to recover the total outstanding principal and interest due ($32, 695.35) on a prior student loan. On May 5, 2014, counsel Hayden and Hanson, pro se, executed a written "Stipulation and Consent" agreement that set forth:

(1) Hanson's acknowledgment that she "ha[d] no defenses to the [complaint] allegations";
(2) the parties' agreement that NCSLT's "complaint is dismissed with prejudice subject only to [NCSLT's] right," upon Hanson's "default" by failure to timely pay on a specified monthly schedule, "to file an affidavit to reopen and for entry of judgment against [her] for" the total amount of $32, 850.35;
(3) the parties' agreement that the stipulated amount due ($32, 850.35) would be subject to a "0%" annual interest rate on the "unpaid balance"; and
(4) Hanson's express waiver of notice, hearing, and court findings of fact and conclusions of law in "connection" with the above-specified procedure. NCSLT signed the agreement through counsel Hayden without reference to her specific authority to bind NCSLT to such an agreement.

         ¶4 Hayden subsequently filed the settlement agreement with a stipulated "Order for Dismissal" for consideration by the court. In pertinent part, the proposed order stated that the parties' referenced settlement agreement "is hereby approved by the court" and thus "ordered" that:

[NCSLT's] cause of action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE subject only to [its] right to file an affidavit to reopen and for entry of judgment in the amount noted in said stipulation should ...

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