There are times when you just want to bang your head against the wall, and Sergeant James B. Hurley of Michigan has been doing that for the last four years. As Sergeant Hurley was serving his country in Iraq, Deutsche Bank and Saxon Mortgage Services were taking his home away from him, his wife, and his two small children.
Yeah, that wasn't distracting while he was trying to fight a war in a foreign country.
If this sounds illegal and wrong, that's because it is. Sergeant Hurley and his wife, Brandie, just happened to be the victims of bad luck and an uninformed company when it comes to laws that protect military servicemen and women from high interest rates and foreclosures while on duty. And now, the Hurleys will probably never be able to get their home back since the bank sold it for $70,000 to someone else.
If our servicemembers can't be protected from unethical practices, who can?
Hurley's complicated story shows missteps by the bank at every turn. A complete lack of understanding (or ignoring) of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act occurred every step of the way, from the initial threat to the denial of punitive damages when it was shown that the bank was in the wrong, and Sergeant Hurley was unlawfully evicted from his home. While this isn't the first case of a bank trying to oust an active military family from their home, it is one of the only cases where even when the courts say the bank was wrong, the bank doesn't own up to its mistake and make things right.
The point of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is to protect our volunteer military from the financial consequences of serving our country. It's an important program and should be respected, instead of trampled over. The greed of banks and mortgage companies during our nation's housing crisis has been astounding, but in the case of Sergeant Hurley, it's actually criminal.
Hopefully this profile in The New York Times will get Hurleys' case the attention it deserves, and shame the mortgage company and the banks involved. Sadly, even if the punitive damages are awarded (as they should be), the new owner of Hurley's property is not interested in selling.
What do you think should happen to the bank and mortgage company?
Image via respres/Flickr