Earlier in March, readers of The New York Times‘ Dealbook blog received the shocking news that four large banks (Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo) foreclosed on the homes of 700 military servicemembers unlawfully. What law exactly? The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which provides members of the U.S. military and national guard with some of the following protections that civilians are otherwise unqualified for:
- Protection against default judgments – The SCRA creates a strict process by which plaintiffs in civil cases, whether from contracts to foreclosure, must adhere to obtain court relief. Courts that determine if the defendant is in the military must appoint a lawyer to the defendant before a default judgment can be entered.
- Stay of proceedings where servicemembers have notice – In cases that do not concern defaults and before a final judgment is entered, servicemembers can request the court stay the proceedings for at least 90 days.
- Protection against the execution of judgments, attachments, and garnishments – One of the broader benefits created by the SCRA is it requires courts upon application to stay the execution of an order on a servicemember’s property and vacate or stay any attachment of garnishment on a servicemember’s property if the servicemember cannot materially comply with the order due to military service. The stay can last as long as the servicemember is in service plus 90 days, but the court may order the servicemember to make installment payments on when the stay is in effect.
Obviously, the third protection is the broadest one, and it shields servicemembers from wrongful foreclosures like the 700 executed by the banks.
Servicemembers facing financial problems should contact their nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office, and their families can contact the same offices near where they reside. The Legal Assistance Program may attempt to help you resolve the problem itself or refer your case to the U.S. Department of Justice. If you are ineligible for help from the military, a Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney may be able to help you instead.
For more questions about bankruptcy in Las Vegas, please feel free to contact an experienced Haines & Krieger Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney for a free initial consultation. Call us at 1-702-880-5554 to set up your free consultation.