Select Page

The Justice Department today announced it has reached an agreement with the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii (Honolulu or the City) and its contracted towing company, All Island Automotive Towing (All Island Towing), to remedy alleged violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  The Department’s lawsuit, filed Feb. 15, 2018, alleges that Honolulu and All Island Towing violated the SCRA by auctioning or otherwise disposing of cars owned by protected servicemembers without first obtaining the required court orders.

Under the agreement, Honolulu must adopt new SCRA-compliant procedures, compensate three servicemembers who complained to military legal assistance attorneys that the City had unlawfully auctioned off their cars while they were at sea aboard Navy ships, and establish a $150,000 settlement fund to compensate other servicemembers whose SCRA rights may have been violated.

The Department launched its investigation after receiving a referral from military legal assistance officer Geoffrey Irving, now a Captain in the United States Marines, alleging that Honolulu had auctioned a marine’s vehicle while he was deployed.  Two Navy legal assistance attorneys, Ms. Sarah Courageous and Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Lena Whitehead, also requested that the Department investigate Honolulu on behalf of servicemembers whose vehicles had been auctioned while they were deployed.  For more than five years, Ms. Courageous and LCDR Whitehead sent letters to Honolulu’s Corporation Counsel explaining that auctioning active-duty servicemembers’ cars without court orders violated the SCRA, but Honolulu continued the practice.

Marine Staff Sergeant (SSgt.) Orrin Sanford’s car was auctioned while he was aboard a U.S. Navy ship en route to Camp Foster in Okinawa, Japan.  The vehicle, which was towed from the street in front of his home, had decals in the front windshield that are distributed only to Department of Defense employees for base access.  Honolulu mailed a notice to SSgt. Sanford’s base address that it had taken his car into custody, but by the time the notice reached the ship, the City had already auctioned off the car.  SSgt. Sanford’s military legal assistance attorney notified Honolulu that it had violated the SCRA and requested reimbursement for the vehicle, but Honolulu refused.  As a result of Honolulu’s actions, SSgt. Sanford has had to continue making payments on a car that he no longer owns. Read more

Read more: Mattis praises strong collaboration in coalition to defeat ISIS

The Justice Department today announced it has reached an agreement with the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii (Honolulu or the City) and its contracted towing company, All Island Automotive Towing (All Island Towing), to remedy alleged violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  The Department’s lawsuit, filed Feb. 15, 2018, alleges that Honolulu and All Island Towing violated the SCRA by auctioning or otherwise disposing of cars owned by protected servicemembers without first obtaining the required court orders.