Settlement payout adjusted in service-member case

gmartin@islandpacket.comNovember 3, 2011 

The payout to military members wrongfully threatened with foreclosure while stationed overseas -- plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit that included a Beaufort Marine -- is likely to be even larger than the $56 million announced in April.

Last year, U.S. Marine Capt. Jonathon Rowles of Beaufort sued a subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase, alleging it violated the law during his recent deployment by requiring him to verify his active-duty status every 90 days for more than two years and aggressively seeking to collect more than he owed on a 2004 mortgage for a home in Colorado.

The suit also alleged that the bank's systematic failures deprived thousands of military men and women of their rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Initially, $12 million was set to be awarded to about 6,000 service members, according to an April 21 settlement.

However, that preliminary agreement was contingent upon the number of service members who sought a SCRA refund. If that number exceeded 8,000, the bank would have to increase its payout to affected service members by $1,500 per loan.

More than 13,000 service members applied to be included in the suit by the Sept. 11 deadline, and Chase will award about $20 million to them. The bank also will provide about $12 million to class members who were subject to wrongful foreclosures and another $8 million in attorney fees.

The bank will also provide an estimated $12 million and other remedies to class members who were the subject of wrongful foreclosures.

The settlement will be disclosed at a final approval hearing Nov. 15 in Columbia.

The plaintiffs were represented by the Harvey & Battey law firm in Beaufort.

Bill Harvey, part of Capt. Rowles' legal team, praised the terms of the settlement, calling it "a tremendous result for many deserving men and women."

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