Brianna Perez of KVIA reported today that the United States Government filed suit against the City of El Paso and two local private companies for violating the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) between January 2015 and February 2020.
Evidently at least 176 vehicles owned by enlisted soldiers were impounded and sold at auction without a court order, a direct violation of the SCRA.
The federal act protects active duty military from certain civil proceedings, including enforcement of storage liens without a court order, while they serve our country.
The United States is asking a federal court to award “appropriate monetary damages to each identifiable victim of the Defendants’ violations of the SCRA; and assesses civil penalties against the Defendants in order to vindicate the public interest.”
I imagine that the cost of 176 cars plus litigation expenses could end up costing our City upwards of $2,000,000.
LAWSUIT WAS FILED FEBRUARY 2 BUT CITY COUNCIL WAS KEPT IN THE DARK
The lawsuit was filed against the City of El Paso on February 2, which was 25 days ago, but City Attorney Karla Nieman failed, to my knowledge, to inform City Council and the public in a timely manner. You will recall that she failed to inform City Council about Joe Pickett’s lawsuit for about three months. There seems to be a pattern here.
MEDIA FAILED TO REPORT EARLIER
KVIA got the exclusive on this story in El Paso, but the San Antonio Express-News reported the story twenty days ago, on February 7. It is pretty embarrassing that a newspaper on the other side of Texas was the first to inform El Pasoans!
I would like to know what City Manager Tommy Gonzalez, who is a military veteran, and Karla Nieman, who is supposed to be our City Attorney, were thinking when they permitted the impoundment and sale at auction of vehicles owned by our active-duty troops!
And why was City Council kept in the dark about this scandal? I do not see the litigation cited on the City Council agendas for February 7 or for tomorrow.
Have a good night.
Photo credit: KFOX