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Overseas Sailor Cares for Homeless Father with Pro Bono Legal Help

August 8, 2016

A Navy servicemember’s father had been homeless. He was unable to care for himself or manage his finances due to physical disabilities and undiagnosed mental health complications. Fortunately, the servicemember had previously been able to live with, care for and support her father. However, since the sailor was the only family member available for him and she had been transferred overseas, she needed legal assistance in order handle his affairs in the future. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the sailor to a pro bono attorney with experience in guardianship and who was licensed in her father’s jurisdiction. The servicemember’s attorney drafted the estate planning documents that the sailor needed to make the medical and financial decisions necessary for the proper care of her father while also focusing on her military duties overseas.

Air Force Servicemember Obtains Divorce from Abusive Husband with Pro Bono Legal Help

July 15, 2016

An Air Force servicemember stationed in Europe had been a victim of domestic violence by her husband and had significant concerns for her safety. The servicemember’s husband was preventing her from leaving their residence, drained her bank account yet was continuing to receive military spousal support from her. The servicemember was ultimately able to leave the residence and the U.S. Army opened a criminal investigation on her husband but she wished to dissolve the marriage before he could inflict more physical, emotional and financial damage on her. Because the servicemember was stationed in Europe, attendance at hearings would be difficult, so a local attorney was needed to represent her in court and to obtain service of summons on her husband who was still overseas and avoiding service. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to an experienced volunteer attorney in her state of residence who was able to effectuate service of the complaint on her husband, appear in court on her behalf, draft a divorce agreement, obtain the parties’ signatures and file the necessary paperwork in court to finalize the divorce. Due to the generous assistance of her pro bono attorney, the servicemember can now return to her military duties without constant fear of domestic violence and a portion of her financial burden has been relieved.

$4,000 Tuition Lawsuit Against Servicemember Dismissed with Volunteer Legal Help

July 1, 2016

An Air Force servicemember’s university was holding the servicemember accountable for the costs of three classes she did not attend and brought a lawsuit against her for approximately $4,000. The servicemember asserted that one of the classes at issue was canceled due to low enrollment, and she never registered for the other two classes. The servicemember was also recently diagnosed with cancer and could not afford an attorney. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to a qualified volunteer attorney in her area to represent her. This attorney was successful in changing the venue of the case, assert counterclaims against the opposing party and ultimately persuade the court to dismiss all claims against the servicemember entirely.  Subsequently, the servicemember’s attorney followed up with her base’s education center and informed them that there may be systemic issues with her university’s billing practices and recommended that they perform an audit. Due to the generous time and efforts of her attorney, this servicemember can now refocus on her health-related issues and military duties without the stress of a pending lawsuit against her.

$14,000 Judgment Against Soldier by HOA Dismissed with Volunteer Legal Help

June 24, 2016

An Army servicemember, while stationed abroad, rented out her condominium. Without her knowledge, the renters failed to pay the homeowner association (HOA) fees and then, unbeknownst to the soldier, the HOA sued her for the fees and a judgment was ordered against her for approximately $14,000. The soldier was never properly served, and she was not aware of this problem until she found that her wages were scheduled to be garnished, likely in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Meanwhile, the HOA would no longer accept her payments so the amount she owed only continued to grow. Despite the efforts of the soldier’s overseas military attorney to resolve the matter, he was nonetheless unfamiliar with the local court procedures and could not represent her in court. So the ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to a qualified volunteer attorney in the locality in which the lawsuit was brought. After filing multiple pleadings and appearing in several court hearings, the soldier’s pro bono attorney was able to persuade the court to set aside the judgment and dismiss the underlying case against the soldier. Finally, in order to resolve the matter entirely, the servicemember’s pro bono attorney engaged in multiple settlement discussions with the HOA and was ultimately able to obtain a very favorable settlement for the servicemember, allowing her to refocus on her military duties while preserving her wages.

Landlord Violates SCRA, Resolved in Favor of Sailor with Pro Bono Legal Help

June 17, 2016

A Navy servicemember received deployment orders, so he properly terminated his lease with his landlord. He paid an additional month’s rent in order to cover any fees charged upon moving out.  The sailor proceeded to vacate his apartment and was not told of any charges against his security deposit or any other fees. However, when the servicemember returned from deployment, he learned that there was a lien on his bank account from a default judgment entered against him by his former landlord while deployed—in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)—and, due to the lien, he would not be able to access his bank account. The sailor was never served notice of the litigation and did not learn of it until he tried to access his account. The sailor, then stationed in another state, needed pro bono help to set aside this order. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to a qualified pro bono attorney in the jurisdiction in which he needed court representation. The sailor’s attorney succeeded in getting the default judgment set aside and was able to negotiate a favorable resolution of all claims against the servicemember. As a result, the sailor could refocus on his military duties without the stress of further legal action against him.

$6,000 Lawsuit Dismissed Against Airman with Pro Bono Legal Aid

June 10, 2016

An Air Force servicemember sold his car to a relative, however the relative failed to register the vehicle under her name and then the vehicle was damaged in an accident. Despite that the servicemember did not own nor was in the vehicle at the time of the accident—he was preparing to deploy—the insurance company nevertheless filed a lawsuit against the airman for over $6,000 in damages. In addition, unbeknownst to the servicemember, the insurance company had already obtained a default judgment against him. The servicemember’s military attorney referred the case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, and within less than one week, the Project was able to match the airman to an experienced pro bono attorney in his area to represent him in court. After several weeks, the servicemember’s volunteer attorney was successful in setting aside the default judgment and obtaining a court order dismissing the entire case against the airman. Due to his pro bono attorney’s assistance, the airman can now focus on his military duties having resolved this legal and financial burden.

Soldier Cleared of Auto Lease Debt with Volunteer Legal Help

June 3, 2016

While a young Army servicemember was leasing a vehicle from a dealership, he decided that he wanted to purchase a different vehicle from the dealership. The dealership told the soldier that he could terminate his lease and then purchase the other car. The dealership signed a Lease Termination Acknowledgement and took possession of the leased vehicle. The soldier then purchased the other car. However, the dealership did not follow through with the lease termination, and the assigned financing company was attempting to collect lease payments from the soldier, causing a significant financial burden on the servicemember, who was soon scheduled to be relocated. Because the soldier’s military attorney had exhausted all efforts within his authority to resolve the matter and the soldier was unable to afford a civilian attorney, the ABA Military Pro Bono quickly referred the servicemember to an experienced, local pro bono attorney to assist him. Within a few weeks, the soldier’s volunteer attorney was able to resolve the matter whereby the dealership agreed to buy out the servicemember’s lease, waive a remaining deficiency balance and update the soldier’s credit reports to reflect no negative reporting. Due to the generous assistance of his attorney, the soldier was relieved of this financial burden, could avoid prolonged legal proceedings and thus stay focused on his military duties.