A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that claims the City and County of Honolulu violated federal law by auctioning off four vehicles belonging to active-duty service members without court orders or waivers.
The lawsuit, which was filed by the U.S. Justice Department in February, says the city’s actions violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
Its dismissal comes after the city fulfilled the terms of a settlement agreement that required payments to three of the affected service members, a payment of a $60,788 civil penalty to the United States, and the establishment of a $150,000 settlement fund for other affected service members, who may be eligible to receive compensation.
“We have now changed our forms to capture additional information to make it easier to contact those people, so with the success of that, we’ll be able to move faster with those vehicles,” said Sheri Kajiwara, director of the Department of Customer Services. “We couldn’t them before. At one point, we had close to 600 military vehicles, but through this whole process and getting waivers signed, reclassifying them as derelicts, we’ve made movement. We have less than 200 to deal with.”
The Department of the Corporation Counsel will seek authorization from the Honolulu City Council to obtain court orders allowing the city to dispose of vehicles registered to active-duty service members who cannot be located.
The city is also considering measures, such as stricter penalties, to discourage vehicle abandonment, and sharing information with the public about how to properly dispose of their vehicles.