A Marine purchased a vehicle prior to entry of active duty and financed it through an auto finance company. The servicemember originally set up automatic payments through his local bank account and, prior to leaving for boot camp, informed the finance company that he would start receiving his military salary from a military credit union and requested the discontinuation of the automatic payments from his local account. Nevertheless, the finance company did not stop the automatic payments and overdrafted the Marine’s original account. The servicemember then requested that the finance company reduce his interest rate to six percent, pursuant to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). In response, however, the company repossessed his vehicle and sold it at an auction without a court order, also in violation of the SCRA. This repossession and collections process obstructed the Marine’s ability to acquire the computer access required for his military duties.
The servicemember’s military attorney attempted to contact the finance company on his behalf yet did not receive a response, so the ABA Military Pro Bono Project was able to quickly refer the Marine to an experienced pro bono attorney. This volunteer attorney was able to conduct extensive research on the matter, interview the Marine about his situation and correspond with the auto finance company on several occasions. The attorney’s efforts resulted in a successful resolution which included the elimination of the Marine’s debt, a commitment to clear up his credit history and an affidavit to obtain the security clearance the Marine needed to remain in the military and further his career.
While deployed overseas, an Army servicemember received notice that a relative improperly used a power of attorney to buy a house in the soldier’s name and that the relative had defaulted on the mortgage payments. The servicemember promptly sent funds to get the mortgage current. However, soon thereafter the soldier discovered that the relative continued to be behind on the mortgage and as a result, the servicemember’s credit score had decreased significantly. The soldier was aware that a foreclosure could jeopardize her security clearance and military career and, therefore, needed help to take action. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project referred the soldier to an experienced pro bono attorney in her jurisdiction who was able to negotiate a new agreement with the relative and persuade the mortgage holder to consider a loan modification. The relative reneged on the agreement, however, and the attorney quickly moved to evict the relative and arranged for a short-sale of the property. Ultimately, due to the assistance of her volunteer attorney, the matter was resolved leaving the soldier’s credit rating restored and her security clearance intact, thereby allowing the servicemember to continue to pursue her military career with confidence.
A Navy servicemember, whose parents were deceased, was the guardian of his incapacitated adult brother. The sailor wished to name his brother as beneficiary in his will and create a special needs trust for his brother’s benefit. The sailor’s military legal assistance attorney was not permitted to prepare the trust and therefore referred the case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which placed the servicemember with an experienced pro bono attorney. The sailor’s attorney was able to explain the estate process to him and ultimately draft a will with a special needs trust naming his brother as the beneficiary. In addition, the pro bono attorney also drafted a durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, directive to physicians, and an appointment of agent for disposition of remains naming the sailor as agent. After the documents were completed and drafted, the servicemember’s attorney forwarded the documents to his military legal assistance attorney who arranged for the client to sign and execute the documents on base. With the expertise of his pro bono attorney, the sailor was able to return to his military duties with the comfort that the necessary paperwork was in place for him to properly make decisions for and benefit his disabled brother.
An Air Force servicemember purchased a vehicle from a car dealership with a loan of over $15,000 on which he was making regular monthly payments. However, the airman never received possession of the vehicle and he was at risk of his loan being turned into a personal loan at any time which would increase the interest rate significantly. Meanwhile, the car dealership was being investigated for multiple fraud cases against servicemembers and its dealer license had been revoked. Therefore, the servicemember needed help to quickly obtain a judgment against the dealership in order to pursue recovery.
Within one week of referral from the airman’s military attorney, the ABA Military Pro Bono Project was able to place him with an experienced pro bono attorney in his jurisdiction. The servicemember’s volunteer attorney was able to file a complaint against the dealership, make necessary efforts to serve the complaint on the defendant and ultimately secure a default judgment in the servicemember’s favor. Finally, because the dealership was no longer in business, the attorney secured compensation for the airman from a state recovery fund for fraud victims. The servicemember has since received $20,000 in satisfaction of his claims against the dealership and can return to his military duties with this financial burden behind him.
A Marine had a three year-old step-daughter whose biological father had no connection with the child since her birth. The servicemember’s wife was never married to the biological father who was believed to be residing outside the country, and his whereabouts was unknown. The Marine wished to adopt the child so the ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred him to an experienced pro bono attorney in his jurisdiction who was able to assist the servicemember with navigating the adoption process. The Marine’s attorney was able to draft a petition to terminate the parental rights of the biological father, make the necessary attempts to serve the biological father with the petition, arrange a social worker’s interview of the family and appear at adoption proceedings in court for the servicemember. Ultimately, with the generous assistance of his attorney, the Marine was able to adopt his step-child and return to his military duties with the knowledge that his relationship with his daughter was legally established and she would now have a father in her life.
A Navy servicemember who was underway onboard a ship received notice that he was several thousand dollars in child support arrears, that his involuntary allotment amount was being increased and that his tax refund would be withheld to offset the increased amount. The sailor received this notice despite that he had paperwork confirming all payments were made since the child support order was entered. As a result of having to pay off this alleged debt, the sailor was facing financial hardship in caring for his current spouse and two minor children. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to an experienced pro bono attorney in his jurisdiction who was able to arrange with the local child support enforcement agency to terminate the additional income garnishment and tax refund interception order. In addition, with the generous assistance of his volunteer attorney, the sailor was able to obtain credit for his excess support payments of nearly $3000 without the need to resort to litigation. Thus, the servicemember could now focus on his military duties with the stress of this financial hardship behind him.
A young Army servicemember purchased a vehicle and a year later, brought her car back to the dealership for an annual inspection. The mechanic informed her that it appeared that the vehicle was previously in an accident. However, the soldier was never in an accident and when she purchased the vehicle, the car dealership did not provide information about this damage in their certified pre-owned inspection document. The servicemember took the car to another mechanic who agreed. Due to a bent frame, the soldier’s insurance company told her that the vehicle was essentially totaled and she was quickly referred to an experienced volunteer attorney in her jurisdiction by the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The servicemember’s attorney was able to research the legal issues governing her case, review background materials, advise the soldier on her legal rights and engage in communications and negotiations with the car dealership regarding the repair of her vehicle. Due to the generous assistance of her pro bono attorney, the servicemember was ultimately able to agree to a settlement which provided for the repair of her vehicle and reimbursements for previous repairs.