Active Duty Marine Gets Justice After Vehicle Towed and Auctioned Illegally

by Amy Myers

Black and White Towing Inc. in Los Angeles, California got a taste of karma after illegally auctioning off an active duty Marine’s 2014 Honda Accord. According to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), towers cannot auction a servicemember’s vehicle unless they obtain a court order. Thankfully, the matter is currently being settled in court in the servicemember’s favor.

The incident occurred after another driver struck the military member’s legally parked car. While the unnamed Marine was away from her car, the company towed it back to its lot. Shortly after discovering her vehicle missing, the Marine contacted Black and White Towing and told them of her military status. She also informed the employees that she was working with the insurance company to pay the retrieval fee.

However, the towing company didn’t even wait for the insurance representative to inspect the Honda Accord before auctioning it. To make matters worse, inside the Marine’s vehicle was her uniform as well as several medals and certificates.

You might think that this is a simple fix—just a matter of refunding the money to the buyer and giving the car back to its rightful owner. But, unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

In fact, it’s a downright pain in the bumper to undo the situation Black and White Towing created. In selling her vehicle, the towing company forced the servicemember to lose the use and ownership of her Honda Accord. And on top of that, she still has to continue making payments for the associated car loan.

Towing Company That Sold Marine’s Car Pays For Their Mistake

Even though it seems the Marine faced a bout of bad luck, this thankfully isn’t where the story ends for her. She took her complaint to court where she could confront her car’s captors directly.

In the current proposed settlement, Black and White Towing Inc. must pay the servicemember $22,000 in compensation for its mistake. The settlement also requires the towing company to pay an additional $5,000 civil penalty to the U.S. Treasury for its infringement of the SCRA. Although it looks to be a happy ending for the active duty Marine, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California still has to give its final approval of the settlement.

In the DOJ’s press release, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division expressed how disregard for servicemember protections can affect our nation’s heroes and their loved ones.

“When towing companies ignore their legal obligations under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, it can have serious financial consequences for servicemembers and their families,” she said. “We hope this settlement encourages all towing companies to review and improve their policies and ensure that the rights of all servicemembers are honored and respected.”