In a first-of-its kind case, the Justice Department has reached a $2.2 million settlement with BMW Financial Services involving allegations that the company failed to refund partial upfront payments to 492 service members who terminated car lease agreements because of military duty.

Justice officials also have worked with the company to set up a clear process for providing future refunds to service members in such circumstances.

The Justice Department complaint alleged that the company violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA. The department’s investigation began with two service members stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, who had leased BMWs and made upfront payments in the form of vehicle trade-in and rebate credits.

While BMW Financial Services agreed to terminate their leases ― one airman wanted out because of a relocation, the other because of a deployment ― it refused to refund any part of the upfront payments.

The government contends that part of those payments is applied to the first month’s lease payment and the remainder is used to reduce the monthly payment over the lease’s term. BMW Financial Services disputes these contentions, according to the settlement agreement, contending that the payments are in the form of a down payment that’s retained by the motor vehicle dealer and not paid to BMW Financial Services.

Still, BMW Financial Services has agreed to partial refunds for each of the 492 service members based on how many days were remaining in the lease. The company also will pay indirect damages to each service member based on three times the amount of that refund, or $500, whichever is greater. It also will pay a $60,788 fine to the government.

According to a Justice Department news release, it’s the first case officials have brought against a motor vehicle leasing company for failure to refund upfront lease amounts to service members who had exercised their rights to terminate those leases under the SCRA. Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley declined to comment on whether officials are investigating other vehicle leasing companies regarding this issue.