Volunteer Attorney Helps Soldier Recover for Auto Sale During Deployment
An active duty servicemember in the U.S. Army left his beloved automobile with his mechanic when he was transferred to England. The mechanic was later evicted from his place of business and all cars on the mechanic’s lot were towed. The servicemember contacted the towing company and informed them that he was on active duty, stationed overseas. However, the towing company was unsympathetic and informed the servicemember that he would have to remove his vehicle and pay all impound fees or it would be sold at auction. Without a court order, this sale violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The servicemember informed the towing company of his rights under the SCRA and provided proof of his active duty status. Despite this, the towing company sold the vehicle two days later. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project referred the servicemember to a pro bono attorney who filed a complaint in federal court on the servicemember’s behalf, demanding damages and attorneys’ fees under the SCRA. The towing company, eager to settle, contacted the attorney to agree to a settlement and dismiss the lawsuit. This case illustrates how the SCRA protects the legal rights of servicemembers, who may not always be aware of their rights without legal assistance.