Storage company sued for selling property of deployed troops
SAN DIEGO — The owner of a San Diego storage company allegedly sold off servicemembers’ valuables while they were deployed, and in one case continued to receive government funds to safeguard property no longer at the facility, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
In the suit filed against Daniel E. Homan and his company Horoy Inc., which does business as Across Town Movers, the Department of Justice sought to recover damages stemming from the company’s alleged sales of the victims’ personal property without obtaining the necessary court orders — violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
The act states that a storage lien may not be enforced against servicemembers during, or 90 days subsequent to, their period of military service without a court order, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Service members, especially when deployed overseas, should be able to focus on protecting our country and shouldn’t have to worry about losing their personal property,” U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy said.
“Congress enacted the SCRA for this purpose, and we will pursue all appropriate remedies to ensure that our service members’ rights are protected. Whether large or small, businesses will be held accountable for violating those rights.”
In the case of one victim, Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Thomas E. Ward, Across Town Movers continued to collect government payments after auctioning off the 30-year veteran’s stored car parts and household items in 2006, according to the suit.
The Department of Justice is seeking damages for the value of the auctioned goods and injunctive relief. The act provides for civil monetary penalties of up to $55,000 for a first offense, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
“Federal law does not allow storage companies to sell the contents of a servicemember’s storage lot without a court order,” acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division said.
“Storage companies should check the Defense Department’s military database and other resources before conducting any auction to see if the customer is protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the rights of the men and women who serve in our armed forces and we will continue to devote time and resources to make sure that they are given the legal protections they deserve.”