The defendant Roger W. Hartwell filed an answer in this complaint brought by The Connecticut National Bank (the "Bank") as mortgagee, to determine whether there was any interested party entitled to the benefits of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1941, as amended. In his answer Mr. Hartwell claimed the benefits of the Act and Bank disputes this and has filed a motion to strike his appearance and answer. I now deny this motion.
A trial was held on this question at the Land Court on June 26, 1991, the proceedings being electronically transcribed. The sole issue was the sweep of the federal act. The only witness was Mr. Hartwell, the only exhibit was the notice to him on September 25, 1990. However, on all the evidence I find and rule as follows:
1. The mortgagor was in the service of the United States continually as a Sergeant in the Army from August 28, 1990 until de-activated on August 6, 1991.
2. Prior to his active duty he had a business servicing snow mobiles and other winter equipment and boats.
3. In August of 1990 his loan was in default, and the principal balance was accelerated by letter dated September 25, 1990. However, Mr. Hartwell was already Sergeant Hartwell, and the acceleration is unenforceable.
4. Section 526 of the U.S. Code Anno. provides for a maximum interest rate of six percent (6%) per annum unless the Court finds that the ability of the person in the military service to pay interest at greater rate is not materially affected by such service. As a civilian Mr. Hartwell had a variable income and as a Sergeant he was paid $1200 - $1300 monthly.
5. In Mr. Hartwell's case I find and rule that the rigors of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, his absence from the United States and the adverse consequences for his business lead me to limit the rate which the Bank can charge from August 28, 1990 to August 6, 1991, to six percent (6%). It is unclear from Exhibit 1 what the Bank charged at what times so until the Bank furnishes clearly understandable figures as to the interest rate charged for the applicable periods, I will stay the foreclosure.
The benefits of the Act may terminate as to future obligations when the obliger is discharged from military service. Indeed Mr.Hartwell has made recent payments. The members of the citizen army now touted by many suffered severe problems when their service ended economically and psychologically. In many instances their postions were gone, and their personal life shattered. For these reasons Mr. Hartwell is entitled to protection from the foreclosure of his home until it is clear the Bank complied with the federal law during the recent military foray.