Many Cancer Patients Face Bankruptcy

The escalating costs of cancer treatments are forcing many cancer patients to consider bankruptcy. Latest statistics show that a large percent of patients under the age of 65 are forced into finding financial relief from their medical bills when being treated for cancer. Sadly, the financial strain on these patients often affects their health in a negative manner.

Why Are Costs So High?

A burning question throughout the United States is what makes the cost for cancer treatments so high. In a country that leads the world in research and development of medications, it is hard to believe that the use of those treatments often places people into bankruptcy.

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Barrett Bankruptcy Case

A jury awarded Fox Sports broadcaster Erin Andrews $55 million in damages from stalker/voyeur/pornographer Michael Barrett for removing the peephole from the door to her hotel room, recording videos of her undressed, and posting them on the Internet. Barrett pleaded guilty to a criminal offense of videotaping her naked and publishing the clip, served a sentence of jail time, and filed for bankruptcy after his release.

Bankruptcy filers seek financial relief from their debts so they can start anew fnancially. Bankruptcy can eliminate or discharge most debtor obligations, but some are not dis-chargeable, and Barrett’s bankruptcy court has ruled that the $55 million Andrews claim is one such item.

Bankruptcy cases for adjustment of debts proceed under Title 11 of the United States Code. Under Title 11, Chapter 7 liquidates debtor assets, Chapter 9 bails out municipalities as debtors, Chapter 11 reorganizes debtors, and Chapter 13 is for individual debtors with regular incomes.

The bankruptcy law enables financially overwhelmed debtors to present plans to repay creditors to the extent of their ability. If the creditors accept a plan or, if the court finds it meets all requirements for confirmation, the court “shall grant the debtor a discharge.” [1]

In most Chapter 7 bankruptcies, assets are limited, and there is typically little or nothing with which to pay unsecured creditors following liquidation. What proceeds remain for distribution after payments on priority claims of taxes, child support, student loans, and the like generally receive only a pro-rata share of any left-over surplus.

The discharge eliminates only the debtor’s personal liability for unpaid obligations. It has no effect on liens against the debtor’s real or personal property.

Most Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases treat dis-chargeable debts as non-priority general unsecured claims worth little to creditors from Chapter 13 repayment plans; nevertheless, completion of plan payments discharges them.

Bankruptcy lawyers talk about non dis-chargeable debts that “follow you to the grave.” Most non dis-chargeable exceptions from discharge are automatic with no action by creditors necessary. Some exceptions, however, require creditor objections to their discharge and proof of exceptional debtor misconduct before the court deems them non dis-chargeable. One such exception is any debt for a “willful and malicious injury.” [2]

“Willful” means the debtor acted intentionally, “malicious” with knowledge that the act could cause injury or harm, which need not be grave or severe to satisfy the element of malice; the mere knowledge of likely injury is enough under case law. If the debtor did it on purpose and knew it probably would cause some injury, the consequential debt is non dis-chargeable.

Because the bankruptcy court expressly found debtor Barrett’s misconduct toward claimant Andrews to be a willful and malicious injury, his resort to personal bankruptcy to discharge her claim was denied.

[1] United States Code Title 11 Section 727(a) (11 US code 727(a)). A discharge “voids any judgment at any time obtained, to the extent that such judgment is a determination of the personal liability of the debtor with respect to any debt discharged under section 727, . . . operates as an injunction against the commencement or continuation of an action, the employment of process, or an act, to collect, recover or offset any such debt as a personal liability of the debtor, whether or not discharge of such debt is waived; and . . . operates as an injunction against the commencement or continuation of an action, the employment of process, or an act, to collect or recover from, or offset against, property of the debtor,” 11 US Code 524(a).

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What to Avoid When Filing for Personal Bankruptcy

Filing for personal bankruptcy can be a way to discharge or reorganize your existing debt. In addition to getting a fresh financial start, bankruptcy may also allow time to negotiate with creditors as you may be granted an automatic stay from legal action. However, just because you filed for bankruptcy doesn’t mean you will be granted the right to do so. What are some issues to avoid if you want your petition to be successful?

Don’t Make the Court or Creditors Think You Have Cash or Assets

After filing for bankruptcy, rapper 50 Cent posted pictures on social media of himself with stacks of cash. Afterwords he claimed the cash wasn’t real in the pictures. ¬†While there may be nothing fraudulent about posing for a picture, it could make others question if you are telling the truth about your ability to repay your debts. In some cases, these questions could lead to your case being dismissed. It is also possible that a Chapter 7 case could be converted to a Chapter 13 case if it turns out you have income or other assets that can be used to repay your debts over a longer period of time.

Make Sure You Do Everything Asked of You

Prior to filing for bankruptcy, you may be required to take a credit counseling course. In addition, you may be required to attend a meeting with your creditors where they can ask any questions that they may have about your case. Other requirements may include paying filing fees and providing the court with personal and financial information. Information provided to the court may include recent tax returns, a list of all your assets as well as a complete list of your creditors and how much each is owed.

What Happens If Your Case Is Dismissed?

It is possible that your case could be dismissed. However, as long as you haven’t done anything egregious or designed to commit fraud, the case will be dismissed without prejudice. If this were to happen you can refile bankruptcy proceedings immediately and the automatic stay will still go into effect. If your case is dismissed with prejudice, creditors may attempt to make collection efforts.

If you need relief from your creditors, bankruptcy may be an option for you. However, make sure that you don’t do anything to undermine your assertion that you cannot pay your bills or need more time to pay past due amounts. The good news is that this can usually be accomplished by simply telling the truth and asking for help if you need it along the way.

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Foreclosure Funding Rejected By Florida

In 2010 the federal government created the Hardest Hit Fund. It was intended to help deal with the devastation left by the housing crash. This foreclosure funding was designed to be expanded in two phases. Each phase was worth $1 billion. When the first phase was initiated, the state of Florida was given over $77 million. When the second phase funds became available, Florida did not apply for them. This means more than $249 million dollars was not taken by the state. A number of local professionals and elected officials were upset by this decision. Governor Scott of Florida has a history of rejecting federal funds. This includes funding for such programs as Medicare expansion, Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail and more.

Few Florida Families Helped
Florida awarded this type of help to a very low percentage of its state’s homeowners, especially when compared to other states. Federal officials communicated their displeasure with this course of action. Florida is considered a focal point of the country’s housing collapse. Many of the state’s real estate officials believe the housing collapse resulted from lenders who ignored the realities of the housing market combined with homeowners who were irresponsible and ignored their own financial situation.

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Gawker Bankruptcy

Gawker, the popular blog site that features news about the latest celebrity gossip, recently filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. This action was taken after the company was forced to pay a substantial amount of money to former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan in damages.

About Gawker

Launched in New York City in 2003 by Nick Denton and Elizabeth Spiers, Gawker dedicates most of its material to celebrity happenings and other stories affecting the entertainment world. Videos, articles and other media materials of interest are frequently posted to the site. Gawker Media is its parent company. The combined net worth between Denton and the company is said to be $200 million as of June 2016.

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The Arch Coal Business Bankruptcy

When the second largest coal company in the United States (USA or US), Arch Coal, filed a bankruptcy petition for protection and relief in January 2016, the objective, Arch said, was to restructure more than $5 billion in debt. Mining operations will continue in the meantime, Arch added, as the Chapter 11 action proceeds to completion.

Arch’s Black Thunder coal mine in Wyoming, the USA’s top coal-producing state, is the second-largest in the country, employing 1,600 people. Arch, however, is liable for $458 million in unsecured reclamation costs in the state. Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says unwarranted and improvident federal Environmental Protection Agency regulation is to blame for Arch’s currently perilous financial position.

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Looming Atlantic City Bankruptcy

Recent last-minute negotiations among New Jersey lawmakers have failed to provide a solution to the looming bankruptcy crisis in Atlantic City. Once a booming casino resort town, Atlantic City has seen sharp reverses as its casino and tourism sectors now produce a small fraction of what they generated decades ago. As Atlantic City struggles to pay its bills, it looks to the state of New Jersey for a bailout.

The odds of a bailout for the city without first undergoing bankruptcy are slim, as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has stated his objection to providing state funds for the bailout without local lawmakers first passing legislation which would surrender full administrative control of the city. As long as lawmakers are reluctant to surrender this control, the governor seems unlikely to provide a much needed bailout package for the city.

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Pacific Sunwear Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

During the 1990s and the early 2000s the Pacific Sunwear brand was the standard of the industry for assorted name brand beachwear. That status has apparently faded exponentially, as the company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Pacific Sunwear’s outstanding debt load was much too high and their sales have only held steady over the past two years, resulting in minimal growth compared to an unsustainable level of debt. The company chose a Chapter 11 filing, which helps them avoid literally closing the doors on the business operation. In addition, there is a potential private lender that has investigated the balance sheets and made an offer to the company for adding investment capital and an additional credit line for restructuring Pacific Sunwear’s debt liabilities.

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No One is Immune from Filing for Bankruptcy

Often times, people assume that their jobs are secure and their finances are well under control. They never think about what might happen if their jobs suddenly lay them off or if an unexpected injury occurs that leaves thousands in medical bills sitting around. Regardless of whether you are an average person trying to make ends meet or someone like Tisha Campbell-Martin and her husband Duane, no one is immune to financial problems. This is where a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney in Tampa can step in and help you out.

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Court Rules: Bankruptcy Clients Worksheet Are Privileged

Everyone knows the seriousness of the attorney client privilege and just how fundamental it is within the framework of our legal system, but one thing that isn’t readily apparent is whether or not this privilege extends towards a client’s worksheets. This is a question that both debtors and chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers have asked themselves: does the other side get to see such important documents?

What exactly are these documents and why are they so important? These client worksheets are generally provided by the attorney whenever they take on a new client for a chapter 7 bankruptcy hearing. The client will fill the worksheet out, answering questions such as how much their assets are actually worth, what their income history looks like, what their living expenses are, and what kind of property transfers they’ve had over the years. Once the client completes this worksheet, the bankruptcy attorney will use it to fill out court documents.

Once the court documents are completed, the client signs these under oath at the law office before the lawyer files them in court. Afterwards, they’re available as public filings.

This may cause an issue if the creditor goes to the judge with a claim that the person who owes the debt may have been dishonest about how much property they actually own or what their assets are actually work. They can ask to have the worksheet disclosed in order to see if there are any sort of discrepancies between what is found on the sheet and what is found in the public documents.

Once this happens, the lawyer working on behalf of the debtor will tell the judge the sheet is protected under the attorney client privilege and is therefore completely immune from discovery. The common response to this is that because the worksheet was filled out specifically for the purpose of filling out court documents that will become public, there is actually no reason the creditor would have had an expectation that the information on the worksheet remain private.

While it’s true that the ruling for these sorts of situations can come down on either side, it’s important to understand that generally the bankruptcy attorney and client privilege will hold out in a court of law in most situations.

There was a recent case 2016 case in Florida (In re Stickle, No. 14-19551-BKC-PGH) involving a debtor who had been sued prior to the filing of their chapter 13 for some of their real estate trusts. The creditor argued that the payment plan that had been set up was based on allegedly false statements. Wanting to prove this in court, they wanted to use the worksheet. It was ruled that attorney-client privilege protected the worksheet as long as the client fills it out with the expectation of privacy. It was argued that it’s very possible for a debtor to have included information on the worksheet that was never actually intended to be made a part of a public record. While in this case, the debtor didn’t actually prove an expectation of privacy, they were given the option of submitting evidence that they filled out the sheet in an effort to obtain counsel.

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