As summarized in Judge Hastings's decision, Ms. Marchus began her journey through higher education in 1975, forty-five years before she filed for bankruptcy. She first enrolled at North Dakota State University, then attended a couple of for-profit institutions, and finally obtained an associate degree in accounting from the University of Phoenix in 2013.
When Marchus appeared in Judge Hastings's courtroom, she only made $11.00 an hour working as a North Dakota grocery store stocker. Moreover, Marchus had never made a lot of money. Her average annual income over the previous fifteen years was only $14,493.
Ms. Marchus also suffered from serious health problems, which Judge Hastings summarized in some detail:
[Marchus's] physical conditions include arthritis, water retention, relaspes of colitis, chronic sinusitis . . . , no upper arm strength, weight gain, lack of blood flow in her legs, thyroid disease, hiatal hernia and kidney diseaseAfter sifting through all the evidence (including more than 500 pages of medical records), Judge Hastings concluded Ms. Marchus's financial future did not look promising.
[Marchus] is almost 64 years old. She holds no pension or investment accounts and saved no money for retirement. Her employment and income opportunities are limited, and the prospect of [Marchus] increasing her income either through new employment or a promotion at her current job appears bleak.Summarizing the evidence (which included more than 500 pages of medical records), Justice Hastings concluded that it was unlikely that Ms. Marchus would ever earn more than her current income. He discharged her debt to SLND in its entirety.
Marchus v. Student Loans of North Dakota, 630 B.R. 91 (Bankr. D.N.D. 2021).
Elizabeth Lally, N.D. of Iowa Judge Collins Leads the Way On Discharge of Student Debt in the Eighth Circuit, Goosmann Law Firm (July 28, 2018).