Sunday, April 29, 2012

Minnesota Suit Alleges Servicemember Lost Home To Foreclosure While Away On Active Duty; Class Action Status Sought

In St. Paul, Minnesota, the Star Tribune reports:

  • Army Staff Sgt. Phillip Harry learned his house had been foreclosed upon and sold in a letter forwarded to him while he was serving in Iraq. Harry, a member of the Minnesota National Guard, filed suit on Friday against his mortgage company, alleging the company violated a federal law protecting service members from losing their homes while they are deployed.

  • Reflecting a convergence of two major social issues: the home foreclosure crisis and the return of thousands of members of the military from Iraq and Afghanistan, attorneys for Harry are seeking to have the suit certified as a class action, saying hundreds of service members are likely to have faced the same situation.
  • The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota accuses Illinois-based HSBC Mortgage Services of violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, signed into law in 2003 as a way of easing the economic and legal burdens on military personnel called to service.

  • The suit alleges that the company has foreclosed on service members' mortgages while they were on active duty and evicted them and their families without giving them a chance to challenge the foreclosures in court. It also alleges that HSBC recklessly filed papers that said Harry was not a member of the military at the time of the sale, when a simple check of public records would have shown he was serving overseas.

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