Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Protects Active Duty Military Personnel From Default Judgment

15 Sep Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Protects Active Duty Military Personnel From Default Judgment

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), signed into law on December 19, 2003, limits collection tactics and enforcement of claims against active duty military personnel.  In this post, I will discuss how the SCRA protects activy duty military personnel from default judgment.

The SCRA, Section 201 – Protection of Servicemembers Against Default Judgments, applies to any civil action or proceeding in which the defendant does not make an appearance in the case.  Section 201 of the SCRA requires a plaintiff to file an affidavit with the court before entering judgment against the defendant.  This affidavit must state that either 1) the defendant is not in military service, 2) the defendant is in military service, or 3) the plaintiff cannot determine whether the defendant is in military service.

If the defendant in the action appears to be in military service, the court may not enter a judgment against that defendant unless the court appoints an attorney to represent the defendant.  The SCRA provides special rules for stays of the civil proceedings for a minimum period of 90 days if the court determines that 1) there may be a defense to the action and a defense cannot be presented without the presence of the defendant or 2) after due diligence, counsel has been unable to contact the defendant or otherwise determine if a meritorious defense exists.

If it cannot be determined whether the defendant is in military service, the court, before entering judgment, may require the plaintiff to post a bond in an amount approved by the court.  If it is later found that the defendant was in military service, the bond is used to indemnify the defendant against any loss or damage that the defendant may have suffered as a result of the default judgment being entered.

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