Michigan Foreclosure Motivates House Proposal on Legal Rights of Military Personnel
At the end of his tour of duty in Iraq, National Guard Sgt. James Hurley returned to the United States to find his Michigan home sold and his wife and two toddlers evicted.
While Hurley was away, his wife was unable to keep up with mortgage payments. As a result, the Hurleys’ home went up for sale at a sheriff’s auction, which the bank bought and sold to another buyer.
Looking to resolve the issue, Hurley sought help under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. According to the SCRA, a servicemember on active duty has special status that prevents foreclosure or repossession until return to civilian life.
However, Judge Gordon J. Quist ruled on Sept. 30 that Hurley does not have the legal right to sue his bank. “The SCRA affords certain rights to servicemembers, but a private right of action is not among them,” he said, according to a recent article from militarytimes.com.
Hurley’s case and other like it have resulted in the Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel and the Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law bringing Recommendation 114 before the House of Delegates at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Boston. The recommendation would give standing to any servicemember or covered dependent in bringing a civil suit under SCRA.
Additionally, the recommendation authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to bring suit in any federal court when there is probable cause to believe a violation to SCRA has occurred, and it asks that the amendment to SCRA includes reasonable attorney’s fees in awards for damages.