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Bankruptcy filings ease slightly in Indiana

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Total bankruptcy filings in the Southern District of Indiana ticked down last year. Business bankruptcies in Indiana dropped 3.2 percent.

Bankruptcy filings in Indiana dipped slightly in 2010—the first decline in four years—and showed a late-year slowdown that may indicate consumers are starting to manage their finances better.

Filings in the Southern District of Indiana totaled 28,901 last year, a slight 0.2-percent decrease from 2009, according to statistics released earlier this month by the Alexandria, Va.-based American Bankruptcy Institute.

Total bankruptcy filings in the district fell last year for the first time since 2006, a year after bankruptcy reform became law.

Even so, Mark Zuckerberg said his local bankruptcy practice continues to thrive.

“It’s still a little harder to file,” he said, referring to 2005 reform that made it more difficult to wipe away debt. “But if they’ve lost their job or can’t pay their bills, they still have to do something.”

Statewide, total bankruptcies in 2010 dipped to 47,304, a 2-percent decline from 2009, according to ABI.

Indiana still ranked 10th in the nation last year in terms of total bankruptcy filings. California (260,210), Florida (113,066) and Illinois (82,669) topped the list.

Signs of a downward trend may have become more pronounced late last year. Filings in the fourth quarter of 2010 dropped to 6,164 in the district, a nearly 7-percent decline from the same quarter the previous year. Statewide, fourth-quarter filings fell from 11,081 to 9,941, a 10-percent drop.

Total bankruptcy filings in the United States increased to nearly 1.6 million in 2010, an 8-percent increase from the previous year, ABI said. But the growth rate of bankruptcy filings eased after three years of double-digit growth.

“The slowing of the growth rate of bankruptcies reflects a retrenchment in consumer spending associated with a down U.S. economy,” ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano said in a written statement.

Business bankruptcies nationwide decreased 7.5 percent in 2010, to 56,282. Chapter 11 filings dropped the most, falling 14 percent last year, to 11,774.

In Indiana, business bankruptcies totaled 918 in 2010, a 3.2-percent dip from the previous year.

The number of business bankruptcy filings by type—Chapter 7 liquidation and Chapter 11 reorganization—weren’t available for each state or district.

Jerry Ancel, co-chairman of Taft Stettinius & Holliste’s business restructuring group in Indianapolis, said he's seen Chapter 11 filings falling within his practice, but only because businesses often don’t have the means to restructure.

“There hasn’t been a lot of asset-based capital in the past couple of years,” he said. “[Chapter 11] just becomes less of a viable tool.”

Despite the poor economy, total bankruptcy filings in the Southern District still remain relatively low compared with the early years of last decade.

From 2002 to 2004, bankruptcies annually numbered 32,000 to 35,000 before surging to 47,710 in 2005, when bankruptcy reform became law that October.

This story originally ran in the Feb. 28 IBJ Daily.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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