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Bankruptcy News

03/14/11 Healthcare Reform May Not Reduce Medical Bankruptcies, Study Suggests

Studying medical bankruptcies in Massachusetts, whose recent healthcare reform was a model for national reform, researchers found that while new insurance rules increased the number of people who had coverage, those rules did not improve coverage — leaving many still struggling with medical debt.

Proponents of the national healthcare reform passed into law last year have claimed that it would reduce medical bankruptcy in the United States by helping more Americans get insurance. This new study, which was published Tuesday in the American Journal of Medicine, suggests that a reduction in bankruptcies is unlikely.

03/10/11 Bankruptcy Filings Rise Nine Percent in 2010

Despite reports of an improving economy, Americans are still overburdened with debt and seeking protection by filing for bankruptcy in record numbers. According to a report by the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), 1.53 million Americans filed bankruptcy last year, a nine percent increase over the number of filings in 2009.

While the nine percent increase is not nearly as impressive as the 35 percent jump in bankruptcy filings from 2008 to 2009, the sheer number of 2010 filings shows that economic recovery is slow going for many U.S. households. With high unemployment, sluggish job growth and continued depressed housing markets, many Americans have to rely on their credit cards to live – and the debt quickly mounts.

The one-and-a-half million filings in 2010 is the highest number of filings since the overhaul of the Bankruptcy Code went into effect in 2005. That year a record two million Americans submitted their bankruptcy petitions before the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) became law.

03/02/11 Corporations Do Not Enjoy Personal Privacy Rights

Corporations do not enjoy a right to personal privacy that would prevent disclosure of certain embarrassing documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the US Supreme Court ruled..

The unanimous decision came in a case examining whether telecommunications giant AT&T could claim an exemption from required disclosure under FOIA because government release of its documents to competitors would cause the corporation to suffer an "unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."

Lawyers for AT&T argued that the company was a private corporate citizen with personal-privacy rights that protect it from government disclosure of embarrassing documents.

The Supreme Court disagreed.

"The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a 12-page decision.

He added: "We trust that AT&T will not take it personally."

03/02/11 1st Amendment Protects Military Funeral Protesters

The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount anti-gay protests outside military funerals, despite the pain they cause grieving families.

The court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine who sued church members after they picketed his son’s funeral.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court. Justice Samuel Alito dissented.

Roberts said free speech rights in the First Amendment shield the funeral protesters, noting that they obeyed police directions and were 1,000 feet from the church.

"Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and – as it did here – inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker," Roberts said. "As a nation we have chosen a different course – to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate."

Alito strongly disagreed. "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case," he said.

03/02/11 February Bankruptcy Filings Increase 11% from Previous Month

February consumer bankruptcies increased 11 percent nationwide from January 2011, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), relying on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center (NBKRC). The data showed that the overall consumer filing total for February reached 102,686, up from the 92,669 consumer filings recorded in January 2011. Though an increase from the January 2011 filings, the February 2011 consumer bankruptcy total represents an 8 percent decrease from the 111,693 filings recorded in February 2010. Chapter 13 filings constituted 30 percent of all consumer cases in February, a slight decrease from January.

02/28/11 Home Foreclosures between 2000-2010

Nearly 6.7 million U.S. homes were lost to foreclosure, short-sale or turned back to lenders between 2000-2010, according to Moody’s Analytics.

02/28/11 HAMP Program a Failure

A new analysis by the Wall Street Journal shows that only one in four of the 2.7 million homeowners who sought help from the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program were successful in getting their monthly payments reduced.

The rest failed to qualify for the program or were disqualified after being initially accepted.

02/27/11 Record Home Foreclosures

A record share of mortgages were in the foreclosure process at the end of 2010, matching the all-time high, as lenders and servicers delayed home seizures to investigate charges of improper documentation.

About 4.63 percent of loans were in foreclosure in the fourth quarter, up from 4.39 percent in the previous three months, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a recent report. The combined share of foreclosures and loans with overdue payments was 14 percent, or about one in every seven mortgages.

02/25/11 Borders Closes Stores as Part of Bankruptcy Reorganization

Borders will close 200 stores as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. The closings will result in the loss of 6,000 jobs nationwide.

02/24/11 GM Returns to Profitability

General Motors returns to profitability two years after filing for bankruptcy. The company made a profit of $4.7 billion in 2010. – its first profit since 2004 and the most it has made in a decade.

02/17/11 Judge Haines Issues Decision on Discharge Violation

Judge Haines has ruled in the case of In Re Cannings that HSBC’s post-discharge correspondence violated the discharge injunction while its refusal to act upon its mortgage did not.

02/04/11 20,000 Military Members, Vets Faced Foreclosure in 2010

More than 20,000 veterans, active-duty troops and reservists who took out special government-backed mortgages lost their homes last year – the highest number since 2003.

The rate of foreclosure filings in 2010 among 163 Zip codes located near military bases rose 32% over 2008, according to RealtyTrac, a foreclosure research firm. This compares with a 2010 increase in foreclosures filings nationally of 23% over 2008.

01/15/11 Bankruptcies Continue to Rise in the District of Maine

A total of 4,205 bankruptcies were filed in 2010 in the District of Maine. The cases were pretty evenly divided between Bangor (2001) and Portland (2,204). This compares to total filings of 3,873 in 2009, 3,032 in 2008, and 2,305 in 2007, 1328 in 2006 and 6,613 in 2005. Nationwide 1,593,081 bankruptcies were filed in 2010.

01/12/11 Recent Judge Kornreich Decision Involving Homestead Exemption

Judge Kornreich issued a decision in the case of In Re Davenport that addresses the tort qualification found in the homestead exemption statute. A provision of 14 M.R.S.A. Section 4422(1)(B) provides that the age-enhanced exemption of $95,000.00 does not apply to judgments based on torts other than ordinary negligence on the part of the debtor. Judge Kornreichheld that Debtor was entitled to claim a homestead exemption of $95,000.00 and declined to apply the tort exclusion.

01/11/11 Supreme Court Rules On Vehicle Ownership Deduction

The Supreme Court has held in the case of Ransom v. FIA Card Services that an above-median debtor cannot take an ownership deduction on the means test when the debtor owns the vehicle. The impact of this case is that above-median income debtors who own their vehicles will most likely need to be in a Chapter 13 case while debtors with loan payments are more likely to qualify for Chapter 7.

12/16/10 Judge Kornreich Declines to Reopen Bankruptcy Case

Judge Kornreich issued a decision in the case of In Re Gagne refusing to reopen a bankruptcy case to allow a Debtor to pursue violations of the automatic stay that occurred a number of years ago.

12/08/10 Judge Kornreich Examines State Court Fraud Judgment

Judge Kornreich has held in the case of In Re Wardwell that a state court default judgment for fraud is insufficient to establish all of the facts necessary for a conclusion of nondischargeability under Section 523(a)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code.

06/17/10 Supreme Court Addresses Exemptions

The Supreme Court held in the case of Schwab v. Reilly that where a debtor claims a certain dollar exemption in property, the exemption is limited to the precise amount claimed by the debtor.

06/07/10 Supreme Court Rules on Projected Disposable Income

The Supreme Court has held in the case of Hamilton v. Lanning that in determining the projected disposable income that debtors must pay into a Chapter 13 plan courts can look beyond the means test. The Supreme Court held in an 8-1 decision that "when a bankruptcy court calculates a debtor’s projected disposable income, the court may account for changes in the debtor’s income or expenses that are known or virtually certain at the time of confirmation." In other words, rather than mechanically applying the calculation of "current monthly income," which looks at the Debtor’s income for the 6 calendar months before the filing of the petition, the court can take into consideration changes in income that have occurred or are known or virtually certain to occur at the time of confirmation.

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