11 News Probe Service Members Take Legal Action Against Maryland in Federal Court

11 News Probe: Service Members Take Legal Action Against Maryland in Federal Court

BALTIMORE — In federal court, the state of Maryland is facing off against several U.S. service members.

Their bank access was blocked for months, and their paychecks were withheld, which sparked a legal battle. The state had infringed their rights, a federal judge declared.

Even worse, none of them are related to Maryland in any way. While serving his country in Turkey, close to the Syrian border, Army Sgt. Oscar Davines Jr. claimed he was pushed into financial disarray. The news that his salary had been garnished in Maryland surprised him.

“I used my card, and it said, ‘declined.’ It was frozen,” he stated. Army Sgt. Daniel Riley and his wife experienced the same thing in North Carolina.

We were merely in disbelief. We were aware from the beginning that something was wrong with this,” Jessica Riley stated.

“For me, it seems like they were using the state of Maryland to do all their dirty work as far as getting money from soldiers,” Riley said.

11 News Probe Service Members Take Legal Action Against Maryland in Federal Court (1)

When retired Army Sgt. Latasha Rouse was stationed in Hawaii for active duty, it also happened to her.

“It can happen to anyone, and as an ex-service member, I don’t want my brothers and sisters in arms to experience this. I understand what this incident did to my family and me,” Rouse remarked.

“What’s Maryland? Why am I being pursued by Maryland?” said Davines.

A foreign judgment is the term for it. North Carolina and Hawaii were the locations of the military member families’ stations. Door-to-door salespeople approached them, bringing bookshelves and encyclopedias among other goods. They alleged they then canceled the contracts they had signed in exchange for money.

The Nevada-based company owner, however, filed claims in Maryland. Default judgments of from $2,400 to over $3,600 were issued against them by the state courts.

“Everything we do for the American people, and this is how America gives back to us?” said Davines.

SEE MORE: What to Know About Maryland’s Budget Agreement: Upcoming Vehicle Fee, Tobacco Tax Changes

Maryland was sued by the servicemen in federal court. Maryland, according to their lawyer, violated their rights.

“We want to avoid having active duty service people brought before a judge, having a judgment against them, and having their money taken away from them while they’re on duty. It is our goal for them to have a front-line perspective. Attorney Phillip Robinson stated, “We don’t want them to question what’s going on with their families.”

According to him, Maryland complied with state law but disregarded the Federal Service Members Civil Relief Act’s safeguards, which included giving each service member legal representation in civil disputes.

The decades-old federal statute additionally “provides for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect the civil rights of service members during military service.”

According to Jeff Sovern, a lecturer at the University of Maryland, “Congress passed it to protect people in the armed forces while on active duty.”

Sovern is a professor of consumer protection law; we questioned him on the federal statute.

“I very much doubt Maryland wants to be in a position where it’s failing to protect people in the military in a way that Congress thinks is necessary,” added the senator.

According to a federal judge, the rights of the service personnel had been infringed. By her decision, the judge mandated that the parties attend mediation and try to agree.

11 News Investigates did not receive a response on the case from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

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