Many years ago, I got a call from a bank attorney who was in the middle of a 4 day trial in Williamson County. It was a lawsuit by a bank to collect its post-foreclosure deficiency balance. The lawyer called me to tell me that the debtor’s attorney had printed out my very own blog post and had introduced it into evidence as a learned treatise under Tennessee Rule of Evidence 618 in order to cross-exam the bank’s expert witness.
While I was flattered (my initial reaction was to ask if the Chancellor was impressed), it was also strange–given my long allegiance to banks and creditors in litigation–that Creditor Rights 101 would be used against a bank. (Also, that debtor’s counsel must have been desperate if he resorted to using my blog post as his Exhibit 15).
Regardless, man-o-man, beware of using this law blog as learned evidence of anything, because I can be really wrong sometimes.
Like, on April 3, 2020, when I boldly predicted that bankruptcy filings in the Middle District of Tennessee would hit an all-time high in June 2020.
It didn’t happen. Not even close. Literally, the opposite happened.
As of today, October 29, 2020, there have been 4,820 bankruptcy cases filed in the Middle District of Tennessee. That sounds like a lot, but, for comparison’s sake, consider that the 4,820th case was filed on the following dates over the past decade: July 30, 2019; July 20, 2018; July 18, 2017; July 6, 2016; July 15, 2015; June 17, 2014; May 31, 2013; May 23, 2012; May 11, 2011; and May 4, 2010.
Not only are we not hitting a record high, but, instead, new bankruptcies are being filed at a record low pace.
As late as July, we were still wrong about the future of bankruptcy (I say “we” because the Nashville Post joined me on the bad predictions).
So, today’s news brings more predictions (but, this time, far less bold) via this American Bankruptcy Institute story, which predicts that the new bankruptcies are coming…in 2021.
“As stimulus checks and other forms of temporary relief run out, experts are projecting an increase in personal bankruptcy filings, which have so far been muted during the coronavirus pandemic,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Only a new stimulus program targeting individuals or government actions forgiving or deferring student loans can keep individual filings from rising.”
In light of all this, I’m not making more predictions, because these are unpredictable times. Our General Sessions Court shuts down evictions and collections dockets, then re-opens them, then drastically limits them, and then reopened them again. People are afraid to leave their houses. Banks are afraid to foreclose on those houses. Lawyers are afraid to go to their offices.
The bankruptcies are coming. But who knows when.
Finally, to all you crafty debtor lawyers out there: I can edit any these blog posts on a moment’s notice.