Washington attorney general alleges towing company illegally sold deployed Navy member's car

By Marian Johns | Sep 14, 2018

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state attorney general is suing a state towing company, alleging it auctioned off a Navy sailor's car while he was deployed without first obtaining a court order.

According to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office, Burns Towing Inc., violated the Service Members' Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which requires a court order before seizing or selling property which belongs to a service member. 

The lawsuit, filed in Pierce County Superior Court, alleges a local Navy sailor who was deployed on an aircraft carrier returned home to find his car had been towed and then sold at an auction. The sailor's car was parked at an apartment complex, home to many veterans and active service members, the Attorney General's Office said.  While the car was legally towed, Burns Towing did not verify the military status of the owner or obtain a court order as required, according to Ferguson's office. 

“Service members shouldn’t have to worry about their property being illegally sold while they’re deployed,” Ferguson said in a statement. “I will enforce our laws to make sure service members have the protections they have earned.”

According to the Attorney General's Office, the Department of Defense has a free active duty service member database for companies to verify military status or a company can pay a private company to run a search for them.

The lawsuit asks Burns Towing to pay the service member for damages from the selling of his car as well as a civil penalty, attorney fees and court costs. 

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