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October 2011 Archives

Baum Firm Ridiculed Foreclosure Defendants, Opposing Attorneys - New York Times

New York Times columnist Joe Nocera ran a story on October 29 alleging that staff members at the Buffalo foreclosure law firm of Stephen J. Baum ridiculed foreclosure defendants and opposing attorneys at a 2010 Halloween party. The column was based on accusations by, and pictures provided by, a former Baum employee. The pictures that accompanied the story allegedly showed staff members dressed as homeless people squatting in foreclosed houses, ridiculed defendant motions for an order to show cause in foreclosures, and included a "rest in peace, Crazy Susie" sign and picture of New York foreclosure defense attorney Susan Chana Lask.

Bankruptcy Filing Fees Going Up November 1

The filing fee for filing a chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will increase $7 on November 1, 2011. For chapter 7, the fee increases from $299 to $306; chapter 13 fees rise from $274 to $281. The Court Clerk for the Western District of New York posted the new fees October 17.The cost of filing a bankruptcy lawsuit (adversary proceeding) is also rising, from $250 to $293. Filing a motion to lift the automatic stay of bankruptcy (usually filed by mortgage banks or car loan companies if there is a default in payments) goes up from $150 to $176, as does the fee to compel abandonment of an asset (that is, remove an asset from the bankruptcy case and return it to the debtor.)If you are interested in advise as to whether bankruptcy is an option you should consider, please contact my office for a phone consultation, at no charge.

Bankruptcy Judge Kaplan to Sit in Rochester Temporarily (or maybe more than temporarily)

With no updated news about appointment of a bankruptcy judge to replace retiring Judge Ninfo in Rochester, the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York has established a contingency plan for January and February 2012. The Hon. Michael Kaplan, one of the two Buffalo bankruptcy judges, will be coming to Rochester and Watkins Glen to cover motions and hearings. Some have speculated that this might be more than a temporary situation (more on that later in this blog.) The administrative order posted on the Court Website states that the motion calendars for Rochester in January and February will be held on Fridays rather than Wednesdays, but will otherwise not be altered. Motions will be heard January 6, 13, 20 and February 3, 10, and 17. Chapter 13 plan confirmation hearings will be held on Thursdays, January 5 & 26, and February 9 and 22. The Watkins Glen calendar will be unchanged.

New York Median Income Drops; Lowers the Means Test Threshold

Recent Census Bureau figures show that the median income of New York families has dropped about 1% in the past half year. For bankruptcy debtors, this decrease may have an effect on both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.In Chapter 7, debtors file a 'means test' form, which calculate their monthly income for the six months prior to filing bankruptcy. If their income, on an annualized basis (that is, the monthly means test income times 12 months) is above the median for a similarly sized family in the state where they filed their bankruptcy, they are considered 'above-median income' debtors and must calculate expenses based on average expenses for various national or local categories. For more information, please see my website on the means test.In chapter 13, we do the same analysis of income received in the previous six months. A debtor who has above-median income must, at a minimum, file a chapter 13 plan that runs five years, unless all creditors can be paid in a shorter period of time. Debtors whose income is below median may, in certain circumstances, file chapter 13 plans of only three years. More information about chapter 13 is also on my website.The new median income figures will apply to any case filed after November 1, 2011. The new figures for New York State are as follows (with the current figures in parenthesis afterward): Family of 1) $45,931 (down from $46,295)
Family of 2) $56,113 (down from $57,777)
Family of 3) $66,953 (down from $68,396)
Family of 4) $81,212 (down from $83,942)

California Debt Collector Shut Down by FTC: Bolling & Associates

A California debt collection business, operating under the name of Bolling & Associates was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission September 24, 2011:
Federal Trade Commission v. Forensic Case Management et al, United States District Court, C.D. Ca. case LACV11-7484; Preliminary Injunction order signed by Hon. R. Gary Klausner. The allegations in the complaint are fairly hair-raising. The defendants were alleged to have abused both the debtors they were seeking to collect against and the creditors for whom they were collecting. They allegedly harassed and threatened debtors, insulted them with vile language, and even threatened to desecrate the graves of their deceased loved-ones.

Peter R. Scribner, Esq | 1110 Park Avenue | Rochester, New York 14610
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