North Carolina – Imagine you are a soldier serving your country with the United States Army. You’re deployed. But then you find out that someone has towed your car… and then sold it.
That’s exactly what happened to Army National Guard soldier Jabria Ross while she was on deployment in Texas.
“I was on assignment to the border down in Texas and while I was on a mission, I found out my car was towed,” according to Ross.
According to WBTV in Charlotte, NC, Ross was deployed to the United States border with Mexico from November, 2018 through August, 2019. The Alabama National Guard Public Affairs office confirmed the assignment with WBTV.
While she was on deployment, Ross had left the car at her mother’s condo complex. She also said that her mother had notified the homeowner’s association that the vehicle would be there. However less than two months later, her car was towed.
To make matters worse, her registration expired while she was deployed, according to Ross. But she didn’t think it would be a big deal since no one would be driving the vehicle.
Ross’s mother contacted the homeowner’s association to find out who had towed the car, however was reportedly provided incorrect information. Ross ended up calling the Charlotte Mecklenberg Police Department to obtain the truth.
Ross discovered it was a towing company named SL Recovery who had driven away with her vehicle. Ross attempted to get her car back, but was told that she had to pay in person with cash or a debit card. To make matters worse, before Ross was able to get back from being deployed, SL Recover had filed a lien on her car and sold it to cover their expenses.
For her part, Ross was very upset.
“I think what hurts the most, I was so close to paying that car off. I go on orders to serve my country and to put myself in a better situation. I feel like I went backwards all because they towed my car,” Ross said.
To add insult to injury, records showed that SL Recovery has some issues. One such issue is the fact that they owe nearly $112,000 for not paying federal taxes and are subjects to liens in that amount. Further, WBTV discovered that of hundreds of pages of liens filed in court by SL Recovery, SL Recover provided false information in court records and to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles about how it sold its vehicles.
According to North Carolina state law, a company such as SL Recovery is required to notify the NCDMV of the intent to sell any cars it tows. It must also advertise in a local paper or in front of the courthouse. Court records do show that in this case, SL Recover did follow through on those steps.
However, SL Recovery did not conduct the sale at public auction as they had stated in their advertisement. A reporter from WBTV went to one of the publicly advertised auctions last September and an employee at the company said “we don’t do those here.”
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In the case of Ross’s car, it was instead sold to a used car company called Carmatix. The owner of Carmatix stated that they buy cars from SL Recovery through private sales, which is a direct contradiction to what SL Recovery stated in documents filed in court.
Chlonn Williams, owner of SL Recovery, stated that it is the responsibility of the DMV to notify owners such as Ross of the intent to sell their car. Court records showed that in this case, Ross never received notification from the DMV.
According to Williams’ attorney Cedric Rainey, SL Recovery did not illegally tow Ross’s vehicle. He said that SL has a contract with the homeowner’s association where Ross’s mother lives. He said that they typically notify HOA’s when a vehicle is towed, so he was unsure why the HOA gave Ross’s mother incorrect information.
WATCH: Here's the story SL Recovery tried to stop from being broadcast tonight. @hodgesreporting found the company towed and, later, sold a soldier's car while she was deployed to the border. He unearthed other questions about the company, too https://t.co/7RhuTb7aTp
— Nick Ochsner (@NickOchsnerWBTV) November 15, 2019
According to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, any civil court proceeding where a service member is a defendant where they don’t make an appearance, the plaintiff must prove whether or not the defendant is on active military duty.
In the case of an active duty assignment or deployment, the court cannot enter a judgment against them. In Ross’s case, it doesn’t appear that a SCRA affidavit was filed with Ross’s vehicle lien in court.
Meanwhile, Rainey stated that SL Recovery followed the law when selling the car. Unfortunately, that doesn’t do Jabria Ross any good. It seems like making Ross whole for what she lost in this case would be the right thing to do, however SL Recovery isn’t legally bound to do anything.
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