Consumer Bankruptcy Update

Smorgasboard this week.

Consumer Bankruptcy Court
Consumer Bankruptcy Court

What the Heck Is Judicial Estoppel?

What you need to know is, tell your bankruptcy lawyer

EVERYTHING. Every debt, every asset, every claim

you have against someone or company, whether a

lawsuit has been filed yet or not.

Because, you are swearing to the accuracy of your bankruptcy schedules, which are a public record.

If you forget to list your claim for wrongful termination or a car accident, and sue on that claim, the defendant can come in with your bankruptcy schedules stating that you swore  you did NOT have a claim, and, the court can judicially estop you from asserting a claim that you did not list in your bankruptcy schedules.

Some harsh results here, as in the 6th Circuit the debtor amended her schedules and was going to pay all the proceeds of her lawsuit to her creditors, but she was judicially estopped.

The 11th Circuit pulled back some on this:

The equitable doctrine of judicial estoppel is intended to protect courts against parties who seek to manipulate the judicial process by changing their legal positions to suit the exigencies of the moment. Today, we address how this doctrine should be applied when a plaintiff takes inconsistent positions by pursuing in district court a civil claim that he failed to disclose as an asset in his bankruptcy proceedings. We reaffirm our precedent that when presented with this scenario, a district court may apply judicial estoppel to bar the plaintiff’s civil claim if it finds that the plaintiff intended to make a mockery of the judicial system.

Good for them.

Consumer Borrowing Rising Again

Mark Huffman of Consumer Affairs reports

But in the second quarter, the plastic came out of our wallets again. WalletHub reports consumers charged $33 billion in new debt.

“So it’s not a question of whether consumers are weakening financially, but rather how long this trend toward pre-recession habits will last and just how bad it will get,” the authors write.

$60 billion in new debt

The report projects consumers will end up adding more than $60 billion in new credit card debt by the end of the year, pushing the total well past the $1 trillion level.

Why should we care?

First, a lot of credit card purchases are for things that aren’t lasting — things like meals in restaurants or vacations. When these bills are not paid off completely and allowed to build up, you’re spending today’s and tomorrow’s money for things you consumed yesterday.

Second, debt cuts into your monthly cash flow so that you don’t have as much money in your budget. If you are making $250 minimum payments on your credit card bill, you can’t spend that $250 on things you need this month and you aren’t making much progress on paying off your balance.

That brings us to the third problem: the interest rate is-sky high. The average interest rate is over 16% and will go even higher if the Federal Reserve continues to hike interest rates.

Best way not to get in over your head?

Don’t borrow.

If you are in over your head, contact me.

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