Moving Company Sold Service Members' Possessions While Deployed: DOJ

The Department of Justice has filed a suit against a San Diego storage company that allegedly sold service members' personal property while they were deployed overseas.

Across Town Movers allegedly sold the personal property of 11 service members without obtaining the required court order to do so, violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), the complaint said.

After selling some of that property, the company still received payments from the U.S. government for the storage of that sold property.

Master Chief Petty Officer Thomas E. Ward, a 30 year Navy veteran, was deployed overseas in 2006. When he returned, he learned the company had auctioned off all his property he had put into storage, including vintage, original car parts and other household items and car parts.

“Service members, especially when deployed overseas, should be able to focus on protecting our county and shouldn’t have to worry about losing their personal property,” said U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California in a statement. “Congress enacted the SCRA for this purpose, and we will pursue all appropriate remedies to ensure that our service members’ rights are protected. Whether large or small, businesses will be held accountable for violating those rights.”

The lawsuit was filed Monday in the Southern District of California.

SCRA seeks damages for the value of the auctioned goods in addition to providing monetary penalties of up to $55,000 for the first offense and $110,000 for each subsequent offense. The DOJ plans to seek injunctive relief.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dylan M. Aste and Leslie M. Gardner of the Southern District of California are working on the case.

If you have had a similar situation happen to you, contact the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office.

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