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Volunteer Attorney Wins Lawsuit on Behalf of Sailor Who Lost Thousands in Dispute with Car Repair Shop

September 6, 2022

A Navy servicemember entered into a contract to purchase a vintage vehicle and have it restored with an auto shop. The sailor paid the full price of the contract, but the shop did not deliver the car by the deadline in the contract. The shop lent the sailor a car to use until the work on his was completed, but the loaner vehicle broke down shortly thereafter. He was then pressured into signing another contract which extended the time the shop had to deliver the car and forced him to pay an additional several thousand dollars. The shop missed the second deadline to deliver the car and threatened to sell the car to someone else.

Frustrated, the sailor visited his local legal assistance office for help. The sailor’s military attorney referred him to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which connected him with an attorney who agreed to represent him for free. The pro bono attorney filed suit against the car shop and was ultimately able to secure a substantial portion of the money lost in the original transaction for the sailor.

Volunteer Helped Modify Custody Order After Marine’s Ex-Wife Abandoned Their Child

August 17, 2022

When a Marine Corps servicemember and his spouse were divorced, a judgment was entered for joint custody of their child. However, the child’s mother abandoned the child after the divorce. After not seeing his mother in several years, the child was so devastated that the Marine had to seek therapy for the child to help him cope with his mother’s abandonment. Because the child was living with the Marine full-time, the Marine sought help from his legal assistance office to seek full legal custody of his child.

The Marine’s legal assistance attorney referred his child custody modification case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which connected the Marine to a pro bono attorney. With the pro bono attorney’s generous assistance, the Marine was not only awarded sole custody, but also child support from the child’s mother.

After a Coast Guardsman Became Incompetent, A Volunteer Helped Her Husband Obtain a Guardianship

July 19, 2022

A Coast Guardsman had multiple health issues that affected her mental competency. She suffered from breast cancer and multiple mental health issues, which were so severe that it affected her physical health. She was engaging in self harming behaviors, and she refused to eat, resulting in a critically low BMI. Her husband was concerned for her safety, and believed her death was probable if he did not act quickly. He visited a legal assistance office to explore his options.

A legal assistance attorney referred the husband’s case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which then connected the husband with a pro bono attorney, who assisted in seeking a guardianship over the Coast Guardsman. Thanks to the pro bono attorney’s help, the husband was granted guardianship over his wife to ensure her safety and wellbeing.

Pro Bono Attorneys Went Above and Beyond to Support a Sailor Who Was the Victim of Sexual Harassment and Stalking

June 22, 2022

A Navy servicemember was a victim of sexual harassment. She sent investigators copies of unsolicited explicit photos that she received from an anonymous source for over a year. After the individual was identified, he confessed, faced disciplinary proceedings, and an order of protection prevented him from contacting the servicemember. However, the individual then brought a defamation lawsuit against the servicemember. The sailor visited a military legal assistance office, which then referred her case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project.

The Project connected the sailor with pro bono attorneys, who had the meritless defamation case dismissed. The attorneys also worked with Navy investigators to ensure that local law enforcement was provided with relevant information related to the ongoing stalking and harassment of the sailor. As part of the attorneys’ representation, they also assisted the sailor in drafting a victim impact statement, which she read during the sentencing phase of the special courts-martial of her harasser. They prepared her for this testimony and accompanied her during the trial. Finally, the attorneys filed FOIA and Privacy Act requests with the Navy to gather records related to the investigation and courts-martial of her harasser. The pro bono attorneys represented and supported the sailor through every portion of her case to ensure it was resolved and she felt safe.

Volunteer Attorney Retrieves Sailor’s Life Savings After Stepfather Improperly Liquidated the Funds

June 7, 2022

A Navy servicemember opened a bank account when she was a minor to start saving money as she grew older. Because she was a minor at the time, the sailor’s stepfather helped her open a multi-party account. Over the years, she saved thousands of dollars to this account. She continued to use this account after she turned 18, joined the Navy, and got married. Her parents did not approve of her marriage due to her husband’s race, so her stepfather liquidated thousands of dollars from her account without her permission, saying that he would only give the money back after her honorable discharge from the military. The sailor was devastated by the betrayal and visited her local legal assistance office for help.

The sailor’s legal assistance attorney referred her case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which then placed her case with a local pro bono attorney. The attorney negotiated with the sailor’s parents on her behalf, and successful reached a settlement with the stepfather, in which he agreed to return the entirety of the sailor’s life savings that he had improperly liquidated. 

Attorney Creates Full Estate Plan and Special Needs Trust for Air Force Couple Before Airman’s Deployment to the Middle East

May 11, 2022

An Air Force servicemember and their spouse, who was also in the Air Force, had four children together. One of the children had special needs. The Airman was being deployed to the Middle East, so her and her husband wanted to create an estate plan, including a special needs trust for their child with special needs. The couple visited their local military legal assistance office, which then referred the case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The Project located a local attorney to assist the military family.

The attorney promptly met with the Air Force couple and began drafting a full set of estate planning documents for the couple. The attorney drafted health care powers of attorney, durable powers of attorney, wills, and a revocable trust with a special needs trust for one child. The couple reviewed and then executed their documents all before the Airman was deployed to the Middle East, giving this military family some peace of mind if the worst were to happen.

Marine Adopts Stepchild with Help from Local Pro Bono Attorney

April 20, 2022

A Marine’s spouse had a child from a previous relationship. The child had no relationship with their father, and the child lived full time with the Marine and their mother, and the Marine acted as the child’s de-facto father. The Marine wanted to make things official in the eyes of the law, and thus, wanted to adopt his stepchild. He visited his local legal assistance office for help.

The Marine’s legal assistance attorney referred his case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which then paired the Marine with an experienced attorney in his area. The attorney worked with the couple on the adoption until it was approved and finalized, allowing the Marine to become the child’s legal father.

After Death of Soldier’s Father, Attorney Ensured that Soldier Received Benefits to which he was Entitled

January 6, 2022

An Army servicemember was stationed abroad when he learned that his mother received death benefits for his deceased father’s passing, even though his mother and father were divorced at the time of his father’s passing, and as his father’s only child, he should have received any benefits. His mother also began probate proceedings, and the soldier wanted to ensure that any interest he had in the estate would be protected. He sought help from his military legal assistance office, which referred his case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The Project promptly connected the soldier with an attorney.

The attorney negotiated with the soldier’s father’s former employer to ensure that he received the death benefits he was entitled to. The attorney also advised the soldier as to his rights related to the probate proceedings.  

Sailor Receives Favorable Judgment After a Neighbor’s Dog Attacked the Sailor’s Dog and Husband, Causing Damages

December 23, 2021

A Navy servicemember’s dog was attacked by a neighbor’s dog, resulting in a large veterinarian bill. The dog also attacked the sailor’s husband, causing an injury that prevented him from working. The dog had attacked the sailor’s dog before, but the sailor did not previously report it. The sailor filed in small claims court to collect damages from the dog attack, and the opposing party hired counsel. She visited her local legal assistance office to seek help with the lawsuit. Her military attorney referred her case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The Project connected the sailor with an attorney in her area. Trial was set for the next day, but the sailor’s attorney contacted her quickly and walked her through the small claims process to prepare her for trial. Thanks to the attorney’s help, a judgment was entered in the sailor’s favor.

With Pro Bono Attorney’s Help, Army Servicemember Stationed Overseas Obtains a Favorable Divorce Judgment

December 21, 2021

An Army servicemember was stationed overseas and wanted to divorce his wife. Although his wife was living in the United States at the time, she refused to cooperate with the divorce, and the soldier needed help to file for divorce, which was difficult to do from his station overseas. He visited his legal assistance office and his military attorney referred him to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The Project connected him with an attorney who was able to file for divorce on his behalf in his home state.

The soldier’s wife continued to contest the divorce proceedings, and the case went to trial. Eventually, the attorney was able to obtain a favorable judgment on the soldier’s behalf.