Iraq vet files class action suit against CitiMortgage

@CNNMoney July 12, 2011: 8:07 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNN) -- An Iraq war veteran has filed a class action suit against CitiMortgage, accusing the unit of Citigroup of illegally foreclosing on his home while he served in the Army National Guard.

Sgt. Jorge Rodriguez filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court on Friday alleging that CitiMortgage violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a federal law that protects military members from foreclosure while they are on duty.

CitiMortgage initiated foreclosure proceedings against Rodriguez, whose home was in Del Valle, Texas, while he was in training at Fort Hood in February 2006, according to his lawyer, Scott. A Bursor.

Rodriguez, who described training as "lockdown" with virtually no communication with the outside world, was deployed to Iraq in September 2006 and unaware of the foreclosure while he served, Bursor said.

"When he came home, CitiMortgage had foreclosed on him," Bursor said.

His home had also been sold at a foreclosure sale, and the affidavit stated that Rodriguez was "not on active duty with any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States or was not protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act," according to the suit.

The law prevents foreclosure proceedings from beginning until nine months after the service member returns from active duty.

Citigroup officials said they are looking into Rodriguez's complaint.

"Citi has a strong commitment to meeting our obligations under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to protect qualifying mortgages throughout the time of active duty and for nine months afterward," said spokesman Sean Kevelighan, who added that Citigroup officials had found inconsistencies in Rodriguez's complaint. "We hope to reach a fair resolution as soon as the facts become clear," he said.

Rodriguez and his lawyers decided to initiate a class action in an attempt to help other members of the military who may have faced illegal foreclosures as well, Bursor said.

"If they didn't check his military status, we surmise that CitiMortgage did not check the military status of other people that were foreclosed on," he said.

Earlier this year, JPMorgan Chase admitted to overcharging approximately 4,500 members of the U.S. military on their mortgages and said it accidentally foreclosed on 18 service members' homes.

While military personnel are on active duty, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act also caps interest at 6% on debt incurred before service, such as mortgage or credit card debt.

CNN's Jennifer Rizzo contributed to this report.  To top of page

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