VANCOUVER — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today a court order will require Chuck’s Towing, a Clark County towing company, to pay three service members for illegally selling their cars at auction. The order also requires it to implement specific policies so it will not harm service members in the future.
The case is part of Ferguson’s ongoing Military & Veterans Initiative to stand up for Washington’s active-duty service members and veterans. It involves engaging and educating service members and veterans about their rights and the resources available to them, vigorously enforcing the legal protections within the Attorney General’s authority and promoting and facilitating access to civil legal services.
Through the Initiative, Ferguson is working to reform Washington’s towing industry to ensure that tow companies comply with legal protections for active duty military.
The three service members bring the total to more than three dozen individuals who have received restitution through Ferguson’s legal enforcements against Washington state towing companies.
“We’re working to reform the towing industry so that it follows our laws protecting active duty service members from having their vehicles unlawfully sold at auction,” Ferguson said. “Lawsuits are not my goal, but we will reform this industry one enforcement action at a time, if necessary. My goal is to ensure that service members’ rights are protected.”
Military service is often associated with difficulties, including long periods away from family and friends, and frequent moves to new duty stations. Consequently, Washington service members who go on active duty enjoy important legal protections.
The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) requires companies to obtain a court order before selling vehicles owned by active-duty service members at auction. Ferguson asserts the company committed an unfair business practice and also violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act (CPA) by failing to have policies and procedures in place to comply with the SCRA.
The Department of Defense provides an active-duty service member database that companies can use to verify military status. This search, available for free to a business that registers on the SCRA website, requires either a date of birth or a Social Security number to verify a person’s military status.