Justice Department Settles Landmark SCRA Violation Case Against Towing Company

Justice Department Settles Landmark SCRA Violation Case Against Towing Company

Settlement for SCRA Violation

The Justice Department announced a resolution in a case against Billy Joe Goines, owner of Goines Towing & Recovery, near Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, concerning alleged breaches of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

The settlement aimed to address violations related to the towing and sale of vehicles belonging to servicemembers without proper court disclosure.

SCRA Requirements and Violations

The SCRA ensures financial and housing protections for military members and mandates accurate military affidavits by towing companies before obtaining court approval to sell stored vehicles owned by servicemembers.

Allegations against Goines revolved around failing to file or providing inaccurate military affidavits, leading to the unauthorized sale of vehicles belonging to eight servicemembers.

Departure from Compliance

Goines was accused of not adhering to federal law by either neglecting to file or inaccurately filing military affidavits with the court.

Instances were highlighted where Goines allegedly failed to determine military service status, even when vehicles were towed from military areas or when owners explicitly mentioned their active service.

Justice Department’s Stance and Settlement Terms

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke emphasized the federal requirement for accurate military affidavits and highlighted Goines’ failure, depriving servicemembers of reclaiming their vehicles.

The settlement, pending court approval, involves a payment of $66,805.06 for affected servicemembers, waiver of storage fees for specific cases, SCRA training attendance, and the implementation of compliant policies.

Enforcement and Relief Efforts

This legal action, stemming from a U.S. Marine Corps legal assistance referral, marks the first lawsuit against a towing company under the SCRA’s military affidavit provision.

The Justice Department’s consistent enforcement has resulted in substantial monetary relief for numerous servicemembers, totaling over $481 million since 2011.

Seeking SCRA Protections

Servicemembers and their dependents, per the Justice Department’s directive, can report SCRA violations to the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program Office for assistance and information regarding their rights.

For further details on the Justice Department’s SCRA enforcement efforts, individuals can visit www.servicemembers.gov.