There are not many weeks that pass where I don’t receive a phone call or voice mail from a client who exclaims “I got sued today!” There is typically a tone in the client’s voice of fear, urgency and sometimes even anger. However, when I hear these exclamations I typically shrug my shoulders as I call them back or answer their e-mail. Please do not mistake my reaction of one of not caring about my clients. I certainly do care. It’s just that if this person is a bankruptcy client getting sued is almost never a big deal.
Each time a new client retains Halcomb Singler, LLP, for bankruptcy I meet with them personally to explain the process of filing either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Part of this discussion will include instructions regarding which bills to pay and which bills to stop paying. Of course, if a bill goes unpaid for long enough this will result in the filing of a lawsuit by the credit card company, medical provided, lender, etc. I tell each and every client that a lawsuit could show up at their door via sheriff or certified mailing and that they shouldn’t worry about it. I instruct each client simply to get a copy of the lawsuit to me so that I can have a copy for my file. Once the bankruptcy petition is filed the lawsuit will stop.
The practice of bankruptcy law in Indiana has taught me that even though I tell this to each client, that actually receiving a lawsuit is a major event and that my speech about not freaking out is simply not working for most of my clients.
I have also learned that even if a client remembers that I told them since they are not paying all of their bills that they may get sued prior to the filing of a lawsuit, they will certainly forget that after the filing of their Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition that if they are surrendering a house in bankruptcy that the bank will need to file a lawsuit at some point, which may even be after the entry of a Chapter 7 discharge, in order to get the home back. This does not mean that my client will be personally liable for any judgment entered, but it does mean that my client will be named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
By way of example, last week after meeting with a client at Halcomb Singler I walked into my office to the blinking voice mail button. I had 3 messages and all 3 were from the same client and all had been left within the hour. Each message was a frantic explanation that a lawsuit had been delivered to the home from the mortgage company and that he was named as a defendant. The tone of the messages was the typical excitement, fear and disdain for a bankruptcy attorney that must have done something incorrectly if a lawsuit was being filed after the filing of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
I called the client back, and by that time he had spoken to his wife who recalled that I had told them that the bank would need to file what is called a complaint for an in rem mortgage foreclosure and that this was actually a good thing since they wanted to surrender their home in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. He apologized for the tone and frequency (I tell all of my clients that my pet peeve is multiple voice mails in the same day….I will call back, but I am an attorney and that does require me to meet with people and go to court instead of sit in front of my phone all day every day 🙂 There was no need for an apology. I understand now that preparation for the eventual receipt of a lawsuit is no match for getting a knock at the door from a sheriff deputy with a lawsuit.
The “moral of the story” if you will, is that receiving a lawsuit is a jarring experience. However, those with bankruptcy counsel have someone to call to assure them that there is not a problem. In my opinion while the actual bankruptcy process is not at all traumatic, the decision to file bankruptcy and fear of the unknown in bankruptcy can be quite jarring to most people. Again, this is where it is helpful to have an experienced bankruptcy attorney who has been through the process many, many times over many, many years. Even though you probably haven’t done this before….they have. So when those moments come where you freak out you have someone understanding to call who has the knowledge to explain what is happening and to answer your questions.
Halcomb Singler offers one free case evaluation to each person or couple who is contemplating bankruptcy and lives in Indiana at our Carmel, Indiana office. Erika Singler will meet with you personally. She will review your situation, answer your questions, and gives her opinion regarding whether you could benefit from filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, getting a second job, spending less on your cell phone plan, attempting debt settlement, etc. This one-hour consultation is free of charge and if you do decide you would like to proceed with bankruptcy our fees are flat fees and payment arrangements are available. To set up your appointment call (317) 575-8222 or click here.
Halcomb Singler, LLP, is a debt relief agency. It helps people file for bankruptcy under the bankruptcy code. No attorney-client relationship with the firm of Halcomb Singler, LLP, is created through this blog. Also, please note that Erika Singler is an attorney licensed in Indiana and does not seek to practice law in any jurisdiction in which they are not properly authorized to do so. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and should not be relied upon for the circumstances of any individual(s) or businesses.