I’ve done collections law too long to think of it in moral terms. I don’t think a person who doesn’t pay his bills is necessarily “bad” (though some are). Sometimes, I think the creditor is equally at fault for lending money or providing services to these poor folks.
But, I recently saw a Bankruptcy pleading that stopped me dead in my tracks.
It was a Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case, which is a filing a debtor makes to stop his bankruptcy case. People want out of bankruptcy for a number of reasons, but this one took the cake.
In it, the Debtor asked the United States Bankruptcy Court to dismiss his Chapter 7 because he wanted to, basically, wait a few more months to run up some more medical bills. Then, after that, he’d re-file his case and discharge those new debts.
The exact text from the Motion is this:
1. The Debtor filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on November 6, 2012.
2. The Debtor’s meeting of creditors is set for December 12, 2012.
3. Since the filing of this case, the Debtor has incurred extensive medical care and expects to have a surgery and additional medical care in the coming months.
4. The Debtor, therefore, desires this chapter 7 proceeding be voluntarily dismissed.
Without a doubt, that’s a tough situation for the Debtor, facing medical bills that he can’t pay.
But, what about that doctor or hospital who will be asked to provide those services? This is as close as “pre-meditated” default and bankruptcy as it gets.
The Bankruptcy Code allows a creditor to oppose discharge for some debts that are incurred immediately before Bankruptcy, including those incurred via fraud or bad intent. But, to do that, the creditor has to file a lawsuit to claim that the debt shouldn’t be discharged and that’s a burdensome, costly process.
In case you’re wondering, the Motion was granted.
Long story short, some doctor is going to provide goods and services in the near future that certainly will never be paid. Yikes.