Knowledge of the Right to File a Bankruptcy Case to Stop Aggressive Collection Efforts can be the Difference between Life and Death for Some

17 Jul Knowledge of the Right to File a Bankruptcy Case to Stop Aggressive Collection Efforts can be the Difference between Life and Death for Some

A recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed a decision of a Tennessee District Court and permits a grieving husband to sue on behalf of his deceased wife for emotional distress inflicted upon her by overly aggressive and deceptive collection attempts by Discover Card.  According to the facts of the case, the wife of the Plaintiff committed suicide shortly after running up approximately $15,000 in debt on discover cards.  When debt collectors working for Discover began threatening the wife with false claims that criminal charges would soon be pressed against her.  According to evidence obtained from her Doctor, the conduct of the debt collectors was a significant reason behind the wife’s decision to commit suicide. 

More information about this case can be found here.  And here is the actual Circuit Court opinion.

The case is obviously a very sad example of collection agents run amock.  According to the factual records of the case, the deceased wife had filed a bankruptcy case sometime in the late nineties and had received a discharge.  Without attempting to speculate what the Plaintiff’s wife may have been thinking in the days prior to making her fateful decision, all people who find themselves under pressure from debt collectors should understand that debtors need only wait for eight (8) years from the date of the previous filing before a new Chapter 7 case may be filed.  (Prior to the amendments of the law by BAPCPA, the waiting period between filings was only six (6) years.)  It should also be noted that regardless of the timing of a previous filing that ended in discharge, a debtor may generally obtain an automatic stay against debt collectors by the filing of a Chapter 13.  (The Chapter 13 case may or may not be eligible ultimately for a discharge depending upon when the prior case was filed.)

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