COPOCO Community CU Sued for SCRA Violation.
Byline: David Baumann
The Justice Department filed suit against COPOCO Community Credit Union, alleging it repossessed a service member's vehicles without obtaining the proper court orders.
The department contended the credit union violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act because it repossessed a vehicle without a court order after the owner made a deposit or installment payment on the loan before entering military service.
COPOCO Community's repossession process did not include any efforts to determine members' military status - such as checking the Pentagon's database - before repossessing their cars, the suit alleged.
The suit contended the credit union - which is located in Bay City, Mich., and has assets of almost $104 million - illegally repossessed U.S. Army Private First Class Christian Carriveau's car and his daughter's car seat. Carriveau was away at military training at the time. His wife, Alyssa Carriveau, was not able to get to work without the vehicle.
"No service member should be penalized for honorably serving our country," Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer said. "COPOCO Community Credit Union's alleged misconduct in repossessing vehicles without the required court order is both wrong and illegal. The Justice Department continues to ensure that we are doing all we can to protect and assist servicemembers, veterans and their families from unlawful conduct by creditors."
U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan added, "This law was designed to ease the legal and financial burdens for service members and their families when facing the demands of active duty. We owe it to all service members to vigorously enforce these laws to protect them while they are serving their country."
COPOCO Community President/CEO Linda Doan said the credit union has not been formally served with the complaint.
"We would never intentionally repossess the vehicle of a member who is serving active duty in the military," she said.
The SCRA protects service members against certain civil proceedings that could affect their legal rights while they are in military service.
In addition to monetary damages for affected service members, the SCRA calls for civil penalties of up to $60,000 for the first offense and $120,000 for each subsequent offense. The Justice Department also said it will pursue changes to how COPOCO Community conducts repossessions.