City agrees to payout over auctions of service members' cars

City agrees to payout over auctions of service members' cars

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city owes military service members a fair chunk of change.

A settlement was reached Thursday in a lawsuit that alleged the city auctioned off the cars of three active-duty service members without court orders or waivers. The service members were protected by the Service Members Relief Act and filed a complaint with the city.

The auctions happened between Jan. 1, 2010 and May 16, 2016, and the settlement requires the city to pay almost $56,000 to three of the service members who owned auctioned vehicles.

As part of the settlement, the city is also required to pay a $60,788 civil penalty to the United States and create a $150,000 settlement fund for other affected service members who may be eligible to receive compensation.

During negotiations the city began improving how it tows, stores and disposes of vehicles owned by military personnel under SCRA.

To comply with the SCRA, if a military member's vehicle is towed, the city will issue a notice to the last known address and will wait at least 60 calendar days for the vehicle to be claimed before initiating court proceedings.

"The City and County of Honolulu is grateful for the service provided by members of the armed forces," said Sheri Kajiwara, Director of Customer Services in a news release. "We regret our unintentional oversight with a small number of SCRA vehicles, and our department has revised its registration forms to allow for improved identification of service members and the vehicles they own."

Over the past year and a half, several vehicles were not auctioned while the city verified whether the vehicles were owned by a service member protected under the SCRA.

As a result, the tow lots are close to full capacity, according to a news release from the city.

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