17 Oct Two Years Post BAPCPA And Post Hurricane Katrina: One Debtor’s Story
On the second anniversary of the changes in the bankruptcy code I wanted to write about how these changes had impacted bankruptcy practice in New Orleans.
Instead, I decided to write about one particularly memorable client that I had the honor of representing post Katrina and pre-BAPCPA.
Like many potential clients in the months leading up to BAPCPA, Tim had made the decision that he had to file for bankruptcy, and he didn’t want to risk the unknown effect that the changes in the bankruptcy law might have on his ability to file.
At the end of my meeting with Tim on Friday August 26, 2005 he had an important decision to make: File a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and keep his house, or surrender his house to the bank and file a Chapter 7.
By the following Monday afternoon, Hurricane Katrina had made the decision for him: Tim lived in Chalmette, a suburb of New Orleans, and Chalmette, along with Tim’s house, were both under water.
I, on the other hand, had been much more fortunate, my house had suffered minor roof damage, and though my office had been broken into, the criminals had little use for legal files and I was able to get up and running by the time I next heard from Tim.
Now if Tim had been angry, depressed or bitter, you wouldn’t have been surprised and you probably wouldn’t have even blamed him. Like many, Tim had left his house with a few days worth of clothes and some keepsakes.
He had lost everything.
Instead, when Tim came in to see me on the same day that he was permitted to return to his “house” for the first time he was rather upbeat.
After our meeting, Tim asked me to take a walk with him out to his car because he had forgotten to give me something. I assumed he had some additional records that I needed for his case.
When we got to his car he opened the trunk. In the trunk were all of what remained of Tim’s belongings.
Tim began digging around in the trunk while he explained that he had noticed that I collected “old things.” He was correct.
I collect old toys, cameras and projectors and they are displayed throughout my office.
Tim then turned to me and handed me three old soft drink bottles.
To think that this man, who, while rummaging through his house to recover what little was left, would think of someone else, astounds me to this day.
I keep those bottles on a shelf in my conference room where I can see them every day. They help me keep things in perspective.
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