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Consumer Bankruptcy Project

Cases & Credits

A single mother of two children, battling cancer and consumer debt

Ms. R., a single mother of two children who is battling cancer, was referred to the Bankruptcy Project by the Justice Center’s Cancer Advocacy Project for assistance in dealing with her consumer debts.

Ms. R., who earns $900 per month, was making timely payments on her debts that amounted to half of her monthly earnings, but as she sought treatment for the cancer and paid for her medications, she fell behind on her payments to the creditors. Her health began to deteriorate after she started receiving daily harassment calls from the collection agencies and lost sleep due to her worries about her debts.

The Consumer Bankruptcy Project immediately set up an appointment for Ms. R. to meet with a volunteer attorney who advised her on her rights and options, including filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, surrendering a car that was in her name and being able to get a discharge of her debts. With the help of her attorney, Ms. R. filed her Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and immediately surrendered the vehicle to the car dealer. Ms. R. expressed her gratitude for the assistance provided to her and promised to focus on getting better.

Three months after she filed her bankruptcy papers, Ms. R was served with a motion to lift the automatic stay. The plaintiff was the finance company, which was seeking to recover the vehicle and obtain the full value of the lease from Ms. R. Ms. R. was afraid and confused because she had surrendered the car and thought bankruptcy protected her from being sued by her creditors.

The Bankruptcy Project recruited another pro bono attorney to assist Ms. R. on this motion. The volunteer attorney advised the creditor’s attorney that Ms. R .had properly surrendered the car to the creditor and any further action against Ms. R. would be a violation of the automatic stay. The attorney for the creditor immediately withdrew the adversary proceeding and Ms. R. was finally awarded a full discharge of her debts.