The SCRA provides financial and housing protections and benefits to military members while they are in military service. One of the SCRA’s protections requires anyone holding a lien on the property of a servicemember to obtain a court order prior to auctioning off, selling or otherwise disposing of that property. Under the agreement, Father & Son will pay the Technical Sergeant $60,000 in damages and the United States a $5,000 civil penalty. Father & Son must also implement certain new policies to prevent future SCRA violations.
“It is wrong to auction off the possessions of a servicemember who is serving our country overseas,” said Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell. “The law protects servicemembers from this kind of mistreatment – they have more important things to worry about when they are overseas risking their lives to protect our nation. We will enforce the rights of our military members aggressively and hold accountable people who violate the SCRA.”
“The Department of Justice is committed to vigorous enforcement of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to protect the rights of those individuals who sacrifice so much for their country,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This settlement should send a clear message to all storage facility operators that federal law prohibits them from auctioning off a servicemember’s possessions without a court order.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Mendell and AAG Clarke made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was also provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Torey B. Cummings of Mendell’s Civil Rights Unit and Trial Attorney Tanya Kirwan of the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Civil Rights Division handled the matter.
The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2016 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-ma/civil-rights.
This lawsuit resulted from a referral to the Justice Department from the U.S. Air Force. The Department’s enforcement of the SCRA is conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section in partnership with the 93 U.S. Attorney’s Offices, including the District of Massachusetts. Since 2011, the Department has obtained over $474 million in monetary relief for over 120,000 servicemembers through its enforcement of the SCRA. For more information about the Department’s SCRA enforcement efforts, please visit www.servicemembers.gov.
Servicemembers and their dependents who believe that their rights under the SCRA may have been violated should contact the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program Office. Office locations may be found at legalassistance.law.af.mil.