U.S. Bankruptcy Courts - Judicial Business 2017
Nationwide, debtors filed 790,830 bankruptcy petitions in 2017, 2 percent fewer than in 2016. This was the lowest total since 2007, which was the first full fiscal year after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 took effect.
Consumer (i.e., largely nonbusiness) petitions, which accounted for approximately 97 percent of all petitions, dropped 2 percent to 767,721. Business petitions, which amounted to 3 percent of all petitions, fell 6 percent to 23,109.
|Year||Filed Total||Filed Nonbusiness||Filed Business||Terminated||Pending|
2016 - 2017
Bankruptcy petitions may be filed under one of six chapters of the Bankruptcy Code. Most consumer petitions were filed under chapter 7 or chapter 13. Most business petitions were filed under chapter 7 or chapter 11.
Filings under chapter 7 fell 2 percent to 486,542 and constituted 62 percent of all filings. Nonbusiness chapter 7 filings, which accounted for 97 percent of all chapter 7 filings, also fell 2 percent and amounted to 61 percent of all nonbusiness filings. Business chapter 7 petitions fell 5 percent and constituted 62 percent of all business filings. These proportions changed little from 2016.
Filings under chapter 13 remained fairly stable, decreasing 1 percent to 296,599. These petitions equaled 38 percent of all filings, up from 37 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2013. The 294,500 nonbusiness chapter 13 petitions, a decline of 1 percent from 2016, accounted for 38 percent of all nonbusiness petitions, the same as in 2016. The 2,099 business chapter 13 petitions, a decrease of 10 percent from 2016, represented 9 percent of all business filings, down from 10 percent in 2016.
Chapter 11 filings decreased 5 percent to 7,052. Chapter 11 cases, which typically require significantly more court resources than chapter 7 or chapter 13 cases, accounted for less than 1 percent of all filings. The 5,966 business chapter 11 petitions amounted to 26 percent of all business filings, the same as in 2016.
The three remaining chapters of the Bankruptcy Code—chapter 9, chapter 12, and chapter 15–collectively accounted for less than 1 percent of all petitions filed.
Although bankruptcy filings decreased nationwide, filings increased in four circuits: the DC Circuit (up 6 percent), Second Circuit (up 6 percent), Third Circuit (up 3 percent), and Fifth Circuit (up 4 percent). Eight circuits had reductions in filings. Districts constituting the First Circuit had a combined drop in filings of 10 percent.
The federal Judiciary has 90 bankruptcy courts, one in each judicial district except for the Districts of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (where the bankruptcy court is a division of the district court), and the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas (where a single bankruptcy court serves both districts). In 2017, 56 of the 90 bankruptcy courts reported fewer filings compared to the previous year. Of the 34 bankruptcy courts that registered growth in filings, the Eastern District of New York had the largest, a rise of 20 percent, which was attributed to a significant rise in pro se debtor filings.
Terminations of bankruptcy cases fell 6 percent to 856,750. As terminations outpaced filings, pending cases dropped 6 percent to 1,069,373.
For data on activity in the U.S. bankruptcy courts, see the F series of tables.
|Chapter 7||Provides that non-exempt assets are liquidated and proceeds distributed to creditors.|
|Covers local governments and instrumentalities.|
|Allows businesses to reorganize and continue operating. Also available to individuals whose debts exceed statutory limits for filing under chapter 13.|
|Covers family farmers and fishermen.|
|Provides that debtors with regular income retain assets and obtain court-confirmed plans to pay off their creditors.|
|Applies to foreign corporations and individuals.|
Adversary proceedings are separate civil lawsuits that arise in bankruptcy cases, including actions to object to or revoke discharges, to obtain injunctions or other equitable relief, and to determine the dischargeability of debt. Adversary proceedings may be associated with consumer bankruptcy cases, but most arise in cases filed under chapter 11. They generally reflect the level of chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions filed two years earlier.
In 2017, filings of adversary proceedings declined 6 percent to 27,791. This was 38 percent below the total for 2013. Fifty of the 90 bankruptcy courts reported lower filings, and 27 districts had reductions of 20 percent or more (compared to 33 districts in 2016). The largest numeric decrease was in the Eastern District of Michigan, where filings dropped to 1,250 (down 30 percent) following a steady decline of chapter 11 bankruptcy cases filings in that district.
Filings of adversary proceedings rose in 39 bankruptcy courts, with 18 districts registering gains of 20 percent or more (compared to 12 districts in 2016). The Eastern District of Virginia reported the largest numeric increase, a rise of 1,142 filings (up 174 percent), with most arising from cases involving a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2017 by Health Diagnostics Laboratory, Incorporated.
Terminations of adversary proceedings declined 13 percent to 29,110. Pending adversary proceedings dropped 5 percent to 25,883.
For data on adversary proceedings in the bankruptcy courts, see Table F-8.