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Debt From Willful and Malicious Copyright Violation Not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

Bloomberg BNA reports, “A $4.4 million damages award for copyright and trademark infringement can’t be wiped out in a Chapter 7 debtor’s bankruptcy case, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida held ( China Cent. Television v. Bhalla (In re Bhalla) , 2017 BL 291130, Bankr. M.D. Fla., No. 8:16-ap-285-KRM, 8/18/17 ).” The Debtor in this case sold an electronic device which allowed one to watch television programs for free that were sold by broadcasters who had won a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Debtor. “The court found that the judgment wasn’t dischargeable under Bankruptcy Code Section 523(a)(6) because [the Debtor’s] conduct was willful and malicious.” You can read the whole article here: https://www.bna.com/damages-copyright-violation-n73014463582/

Can I Change My Mind About Surrendering My Property in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy ?

If you are in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and had decided to keep your car and pay for it through the Plan, can you change your mind after your Plan is confirmed if your change of mind is in good faith? It seems that according to an article by Bobby Wilbert of the NACBA you can. In the case he reports on the debtor made a motion to modify the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan 16 months after it was confirmed. The debtor had proposed to retain personal property that secured a debt with a whopping 38.72% interest rate. The debtor wanted to change the Plan to allow for surrender of the property and then to reclassify the deficiency that remained after the property was sold into an unsecured non-priority debt that would then get discharged at the end of the bankruptcy. Note that this must be done in good faith. If the court was presented with evidence that the debtor never intended to keep the property through the duration of the bankruptcy, that would likely be considered a good example of bad faith.

“Bank of America to Pay $6 Million to Bankrupt Couple”

“Bank of America Corp. has agreed to pay more than $6 million to a California couple whom a federal judge said had been harassed and illegally foreclosed upon by the bank’s mortgage unit, ending an eight-year-long dispute.” according to foxbusiness.com. After the couple fell behind on their mortgage payments approximately 20 loan modification requests were made and rejected, and then the couple filed a bankruptcy. The filing of the bankruptcy should have halted the bank’s efforts to foreclose on the couple, but instead the stay issued by the bankruptcy court was ignored by the bank and they forced the couple out of their home. Later efforts by the bank to reverse course were deemed to be too little and too late by the court. It is hard to believe that such a sophisticated lender would not comprehend the gravity of violating the Automatic Stay in a bankruptcy case. The automatic stay is interpreted very broadly and forbids creditors from trying to collect money from a debtor outside of the bankruptcy process. The automatic stay is so important to a bankruptcy that the lifting of the stay can make a bankruptcy pointless. If you are facing a foreclosure, it would be wise to talk to a bankruptcy attorney to find out whether a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will allow you to keep your house.

Credit Card Debt Hits $1 Trillion

CBS News reports that, “The amount Americans owe on their credit cards has hit a new high at just over $1 trillion, according to Federal Reserve data, topping the previous mark set in April of 2008 just before the Great Recession.” With the recent trend of declining numbers of bankruptcy filings, could this be an indication that that trend is about to end? If the economy continues to grow, then the financing of this debt may not be a significant problem. However, a downturn in the economy may change all that. If you find yourself in a position where you have overwhelming credit card debt it is usually a good idea to at least talk to a bankruptcy attorney on the phone to get an idea of what your options may be. Often times a bankruptcy attorney can provide you with options short of actually filing for bankruptcy. If bankruptcy does become your best option, you will want to make sure you don’t make any mistakes in handling your finances as you approach a bankruptcy filing, and the best way to avoid those mistakes is to talk to a bankruptcy attorney.

Ch. 7 Bankruptcy Filings Dip in Eastern District

At the end of July 2017, year-to-date Chapter 7 filings are down compared to 2016 in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. At the end of July last year the number of filings was at 5,284 and this year the number stands at 5,069. That is a 4% drop according to the Clerk of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. However, Chapter 13 case filings during the same period have risen 3% from 2,403 to 2,480 according to the same source. Wisconsin is divided into two bankruptcy court districts. Our office is just a few miles from the dividing line between the two districts, the Eastern and Western Districts. Walworth County and Waukesha County bankruptcy cases are filed in the Eastern District and Western District bankruptcy cases include those filed by debtors from Rock County, Jefferson County, Dane County and Green County. Our office can file bankruptcy cases in every county in Wisconsin.