ILNews

Hoosier bankruptcy filings among highest

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Bankruptcy filings have increased so much in Indiana that some U.S. trustees handling Chapter 7 proceedings may want to add an extra session each month to hear new cases.

Attorneys statewide are seeing more clients from an uptick in filings, and as a result are not surprised to hear that federal filings across the country surged 38 percent in 2007. Nor are they surprised that Indiana ranked fourth highest in the nation overall and top in the country for the number of Chapter 7 filings last year.

"It doesn't surprise me that numbers are up," said Fort Wayne bankruptcy attorney Edward Craig. "Indiana isn't the best place to practice (bankruptcy) law in the world, but in terms of need there's no better place. This is still a lucrative practice."

Figures released Tuesday from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts show federal bankruptcy filings surged 38 percent last year, a significant jump following a year that saw sharp declines after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Prevention Act took effect in October 2005.

A historic high came in 2005 prior to the federal law, when more than 2 million bankruptcies were filed. Overall filings fell sharply in 2006 to about 617,580 but started climbing again last year, reaching 850,912 filings, figures show. Chapter 7 filings increased 44 percent, from 360,890 to 519,364 filings; Chapter 13 filings increased 29 percent, from 251,179 to 324,773 filings. The Chapter 11 filings jumped 23 percent while the Chapter 12 filings rose by less than 1 percent, figures show.

Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama ranked first through third in total Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, respectively. In Indiana, the Northern District Bankruptcy Court saw a surge greater than the national average while the Southern District closely mirrored what was happening nationally. The Northern District filings increased from 8,279 in 2006 to 11,764 last year; the Southern District jumped from 13,955 to 19,358 in 2007.

About 8,583 filings in the Northern District represented Chapter 7 bankruptcies, while 12,846 were in that category in the Southern District, the figures show.

In Indianapolis, bankruptcy attorney Jim Young with Rubin & Levin said his colleagues are not surprised by the increase in filings.

"We've been speculating as to when it would start picking up, and this shows that's happening," he said. "Normally, the Indianapolis panel (of trustees) would have two days a month when they'd hear new cases, but starting in May they are starting a third session. That's a consistent indication of how much the bankruptcy caseload is picking up for the trustees."

Young said that Indiana's economy, as in other states seeing similar high bankruptcy filings, is a main reason for the increase.

The current level of bankruptcy filings is probably close to where it should be, or is at least getting to that point, said Craig.

"You have to go pre-scare, not just pre-2005," he said. "That goes before 2001 or maybe even before the rumblings of bankruptcy reform in the late 1990s. Numbers now are close to that (2000) level, and 2008 is promising to turn out to be comparable."
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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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