Personal Injury Lawsuits Must Be Listed in your Bankruptcy

Whether you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must disclose in writing on your bankruptcy petition any lawsuit or potential lawsuit that you may have against anyone.  If you fail to do so, you will lose your right to recover any money at all from the defendant.

In the case of Donna Barger vs. City of Cartersville GA, Ms. Barger lost her right to recover any money from the City of Cartersville.  The facts of of the case are as follows.  Donna Barger was a personnel  director for the City of Cartersville.  In November 2000, she underwent back surgery for a ruptured disc.  After she was able to return to work, she was demoted.  As a result of the demotion, Ms. Barger had a valid claim against the City of Cartersville for violation of the Family Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disability Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  Since the demotion resulted in a drastic drop in income, Ms. Barger was forced to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  She told her bankruptcy attorney and the trustee about the claim at her 341 meeting of creditors.  However, the claim was never listed on her petition.  Furthermore, the case states that “when the trustee asked Barger about the case, she told him that the discrimination suit merely sought reinstatement of her position as Personnel Director.”  The case states that she filed her bankruptcy petition on September 4, 2001 and did not list her discrimination suit as an asset.

In February 2002, Ms. Barger sent the City of Cartersville a copy of her bankruptcy discharge order.  In response, the City of Cartersville moved for summary judgment on the basis of judicial estoppel.  In June 2002, the District court dismissed Barger’s discrimination case by entering summary judgment against her.

Don’t let this happen to you.  When you review your bankruptcy petition, you must make sure you list every asset you have including any potential right to sue any person or any entity.  It is absolutely imperative that you review every single page of your bankruptcy petition before your case is filed.  If you become involved in a lawsuit or have a potential claim after your case is filed, you must contact me as soon as possible and sign an amendment to your bankruptcy petition.

Related post:  Should I tell my Bankruptcy Attorney Everything?

Related post:  How do I protect my assets in a chapter 13 or a chapter 7?

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