NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc was sued on Friday by a Texas Army National Guard sergeant who said the bank foreclosed on his home while he was preparing to be deployed to Iraq, court papers show.
Jorge Rodriguez said the May 2, 2006 foreclosure of his Del Valle, Texas home by the bank's CitiMortgage unit violated a 2003 federal law designed to ease the financial and legal burdens of military personnel called into active duty.
Rodriguez said the foreclosure occurred three months after he had begun training at Fort Hood, where he was "on lock down" and could not communicate with outsiders.
He said he could not make payments on his mortgage while in active duty, and learned about the foreclosure only upon returning on August 7, 2007 from an 11-month stint in Iraq.
"This was not an isolated incident," Rodriguez said in a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court. "CitiMortgage initiated thousands of foreclosure proceedings across the United States without adequate safeguards to ensure that service members on active duty were not targeted."
Rodriguez said his property was sold at foreclosure for about $137,900, or $13,400 more than his original mortgage. He said he received no proceeds from the sale.
The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of U.S. armed forces members whose homes were foreclosed upon improperly by CitiMortgage from December 19, 2003 to the present.
It seeks to restore possession of the homes, compensatory and punitive damages, and other remedies.
Sean Kevelighan, a Citigroup spokesman, said the New York-based bank is looking into the matter.
JPMorgan Chase & Co, a Citigroup rival, this year apologized and said it would forgive loans made on homes it seized from at least 33 U.S. military personnel who were on active duty.
The case is Rodriguez v. CitiMortgage Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-04718.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; editing by Carol Bishopric and Tim Dobbyn)