Airman Cleared of $5000 HOA Judgment with Help of Pro Bono Attorney
An Air Force servicemember owned a home with a housemate and when he received military orders to serve abroad, they sold the home. While the airman was stationed abroad, and without his knowledge, the homeowners association obtained a default judgment for unpaid dues to the association, plus over $4500 in costs and attorney fees, without providing proper notice to the servicemember and in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). He was not appointed counsel, as is required by the SCRA, and his wages were already being garnished to collect on the judgment, so the airman needed legal assistance immediately to help overturn the judgment.
The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to an experienced pro bono attorney in his jurisdiction who was able to file a motion to vacate the default judgment in court and argue the motion in a contentious hearing. The volunteer attorney ultimately prevailed and the court vacated the judgment against the airman. In addition, the pro bono attorney was successful in persuading the homeowners association to permanently dismiss the complaint against the servicemember and return all fees (with the exception of the original unpaid dues) and interest collected through the garnishment of the airman’s military wages. The servicemember has since received payment and his attorney appreciated the opportunity to serve the airman.