The Department of Justice announced on Thursday a $9.35 million settlement with Santander Consumer USA, Inc. for systemic violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The lawsuit, filed by the federal government, revealed evidence that the financing company had illegally repossessed 1,112 motor vehicles belonging to active duty men and women between January 2008 and February 2013.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (known as the “SCRA”) is a collection of federal laws designed to protect military men, women, and their families from financial pressure while their loved ones are on active duty. The Act has been in continuous effect since World War II, but it has its roots in laws passed as early as the War of 1812. This settlement is the latest in a string of SCRA cases in the last five years resulting in major financial penalties against some of America’s largest banks.
Chappell Smith and Arden, P.A. attorney Graham Newman served as court-approved Class Counsel for a group of approximately 15,000 military men and women who were denied SCRA benefits in the case of Rowles v. Chase Home Finance, LLC. The case settled for $56 million.
Newman has substantial experience representing military personnel and their families in SCRA-related litigation. Since June of 2014, Newman twice has presented seminars on SCRA litigation to civilian attorneys and has been published in the Bulletin of the South Carolina Association of Justice on the topic.