BAPCPA Report - 2019
2019 Report of Statistics Required by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.
Under 28 U.S.C. ' 159(b), enacted as part of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA), the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) is required to submit an annual report to Congress on certain bankruptcy statistics detailed in 28 U.S.C. ' 159(c). Section 159(a) provides that clerks of the bankruptcy courts “shall collect statistics regarding debtors who are individuals with primarily consumer debts seeking relief under chapters 7, 11, and 13 of title 11.” The Director of the AO is required to compile this information, analyze it, and make it accessible to the public as well as Congress. This report is prepared to fulfill the statutory requirement. Tables in the report display data nationally, by circuit, and by district.
Summary of Findings
During calendar year 2019, more than 733,000 bankruptcy petitions were filed by individuals with debts that are predominantly consumer in nature (“consumer cases”), largely unchanged from 2018. Approximately 62 percent of the petitions were filed under chapter 7, in which a debtor’s nonexempt assets are liquidated and the proceeds distributed to creditors. About 38 percent were filed under chapter 13, in which individuals with regular income and who have debts below a statutory threshold make installment payments to creditors under court-confirmed plans. One-tenth of 1 percent of petitions filed by individuals with predominantly consumer debt were filed under chapter 11, which allows businesses and individuals to continue operating while they formulate plans to reorganize and repay their creditors.1
Approximately 764,000 consumer cases were closed during calendar year 2019. Sixty-three percent of the closed consumer cases had been filed under chapter 7, about 37 percent under chapter 13, and less than 1 percent under chapter 11.
Consumer debtors seeking bankruptcy protection under chapters 7, 11, or 13 during 2019 reported holding total assets of $83 billion and total liabilities of $113 billion. Total assets reported by consumer debtors rose 11 percent from 2018. Total liabilities for the same set of debtors fell 12 percent from 2018.2 The growth in assets in 2019 was primarily due to several debtors who reported total assets in excess of $1 billion.
The median average monthly income reported by all debtors was $2,978 (3 percent higher than in 2018), and the median average reported monthly expenses were $2,836 (3 percent higher than in 2018). From filing to closing, chapter 7 consumer cases terminated in 2019 had a mean time interval of 186 days and a median time interval of 114 days. A total of 152,226 reaffirmation agreements were reported as filed in 108,589 chapter 7 consumer cases terminated during 2019. In 39 percent of the chapter 13 cases filed during 2019, debtors reported that they had filed for bankruptcy protection during the previous eight years, the same percentage as in 2018.
In accordance with BAPCPA, the bankruptcy statistics in this report are itemized by chapter of Title 11 of the United States Code (the Bankruptcy Code) and report only data in consumer cases. The tables noted in the list below have been created for this report as specified in 28 U.S.C. ' 159(c).
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(A) &
Assets and Liabilities Reported by Debtors and Debts Discharged
|28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(B)||Income and Expenses Reported by Debtors||2|
|28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(D)||Time Interval from Filing to Closing||3|
|28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(E)||
|28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(F)(i)||Property Valuation Orders||5|
|28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(F)(ii)||Chapter 13 Cases Closed by Dismissal or Plan Completion and Plan Modifications||6|
|28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(F)(iii)||Prior/No Prior Filings Reported by Debtors||7|
|28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(G)||Creditor Misconduct and Punitive Damages||8|
|28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(H)||Rule 9011 Sanctions Imposed Against Debtors’ Attorneys and Damages Awarded||9|
The naming convention used for the tables in this report provides that the alphabetic character immediately following the table number indicates the chapter(s) of the Bankruptcy Code associated with the cases included in the table. “A” indicates cases under chapter 7 only; “B” indicates cases under chapter 11 only; “D” indicates cases under chapter 13 only; and “X” indicates cases under chapters 7, 11, and 13 combined. For example, Table 1D reports assets and liabilities for cases filed under chapter 13.3
Methodology and Data Limitations
The U.S. bankruptcy courts send data to the AO when a case is filed, when certain motions are filed in the case, and when the case is closed. The data are then compiled annually for the purpose of this report. Many BAPCPA tables, particularly those reporting data on debtors’ assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, rely on data provided by debtors when they submit required forms, schedules, motions, agreements, and other filings to the court. Most of these data, as specified in 28 U.S.C. ' 159(c), are provided exclusively by debtors and are not validated either by the courts or the AO.
With respect to data collected from forms and schedules submitted at filing, debtors may fail to provide some or all of the data required for the BAPCPA tables. Therefore, analyses involving two or more columns in any table may overstate or understate differences. When all required data from a debtor are missing, either because of omission or delayed submission, analyses involving the data and the number of cases become unreliable. Therefore, caution should be used when analyzing columns of data or comparing any column of data to the number of cases filed.
Reliance on debtor-provided data may introduce other sources of error. One likely source of error arises when a debtor inaccurately reports assets, liabilities, income, or expenses at the time of filing. Those inaccuracies, if significant enough, may affect district, circuit, and national totals for the relevant fields in the tables in this report.
Data on Cases Filed and Closed
Another limitation relates to the first column of data in each table, which presents total cases. Some tables include reopened and transferred cases in the totals, but others omit these cases. Reopened and transferred cases are excluded when the data would be duplicative. For example, totals for assets and liabilities at the original filing of a case are the same for each reopening of that case. Counting the cases twice (once at filing and once at reopening) would distort the data on reported assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. In all other instances in which the duplication would not affect the results, these cases are included.
Transaction data include reports of case-related events such as reaffirmation agreements, valuation orders, creditor misconduct, and attorney sanctions that occur during bankruptcy proceedings (see Tables 4, 5, 8, and 9). Such data are typically captured in the courts’ docketing activity.
In many instances, BAPCPA requires a report of the total number of cases in which a specific type of transaction has occurred. This affects the way that transaction data are reported. A case may have more than one occurrence of a particular type of transaction. For this reason, the case must be concluded before the AO can report whether the case meets the requirement to be counted and to ensure that no case is counted more than once. Thus, tables based on transaction data are based only on data from cases closed during the reporting period. These tables are subject to the same limitations noted in the section on cases filed and closed. Case activity that occurred prior to October 17, 2006, in a case that closed during the reporting period would not have been captured, causing transaction data to be underreported.
In addition, because a case may have more than one occurrence of a specific type of transaction, but the characteristics of each transaction may be different, the case must be counted in each column of a table whenever any occurrence meets the criteria for data in that column. If, for example, a debtor enters into three reaffirmation agreements, two of which include certification from the debtor’s attorney and one of which does not, the case is counted in the column representing “number of cases with agreements filed pro se” as well as the column representing the “total number of cases with agreements filed.” Furthermore, if, in the example above, the court approves one reaffirmation agreement and denies the other two, the case is also counted in the column representing the “number of cases with agreements approved.”
Because transaction data are captured from docket activity, the collection of accurate transaction data relies on debtors, their attorneys, and other case parties who file motions, agreements, and other documents with the courts to identify them appropriately. If a filer fails to note the correct court event at docketing, the data may not be reported accurately or at all. If the filer submits multiple matters under a single court event, the activities may be undercounted or not counted at all.
Assets and Liabilities Reported by Debtors
Tables 1A, 1B, 1D, and 1X set forth the assets and liabilities reported by debtors in total and by category of assets and liabilities, as well as the total net scheduled debt reported by the debtors on Official Bankruptcy Form 106Sum—Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information (B 106 Summary). All tables that report assets and liabilities (1A, 1B, 1D, and 1X) present data on cases filed during the reporting period by individual debtors with primarily consumer debt. The data for these tables are provided exclusively by the debtors and cannot be validated by the courts. These data typically are provided by a debtor at the time of filing or within 14 days thereafter as required by Rule 1007 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (Fed. R. Bankr. P. 1007). They are not typically updated as the case proceeds. Data for reopened and transferred cases are excluded to prevent duplicate reporting.
“Net scheduled debt” is defined as the total amount of debt and obligations of a debtor reported on the schedules reduced by the amount of such debt reported in categories that are predominantly non-dischargeable. Debt that is predominantly non-dischargeable may include, but is not limited to, domestic support obligations, taxes, student loans, and pension obligations. Thus, net scheduled debt approximates the amount of debt reported by the debtor at the time of filing that may be eligible for discharge (without regard to security interests) during the case and is referred to in 28 U.S.C. ' 159(c)(3)(C) as the “aggregate amount of debt discharged in cases filed during the reporting period.”
“Net scheduled debt,” however, overstates the amount of debt actually discharged by the amount of secured debt (e.g., mortgages on real property and many car loans) that remains after the discharge. A discharge in bankruptcy releases the debtor from personal liability for certain specified types of debts. Although a debtor is not personally liable for discharged debts, a valid lien secured by property that has not been voided in the bankruptcy case will remain in effect as to that secured property after the bankruptcy case has been closed. Therefore, unless the debtor continues repaying the discharged debt, a secured creditor may enforce the lien to recover the property that secures payment of the debt. In determining dischargeable debt, the statute does not provide for a deduction of either real or personal property valuations from the claims by creditors secured by such property.
Table 1X shows that individual debtors with primarily consumer debt seeking bankruptcy protection under chapters 7, 11, or 13, during 2019 reported holding total assets in the aggregate amount of $83 billion. Sixty-three percent of these assets were categorized as real property, and 37 percent as personal property. Apart from districts with fewer than 200 case filings each (the Districts of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam), debtors in the District of Nevada and the Eastern District of New York (NY-E) reported the highest average assets per petition at $415,000 and $375,000, respectively. Filers in the Western District of Tennessee (TN-W) reported the lowest average assets at $47,000.
Debtors reported total liabilities in the aggregate amount of $113 billion, with 53 percent of liabilities categorized as secured claims, 2 percent as unsecured priority claims, and 45 percent as unsecured non-priority claims. Overall, debtors categorized 90 percent of debts and obligations as dischargeable debt. Excluding districts with fewer than 200 case filings each and one debtor in the Eastern District of California (CA-E) who reported liabilities of $8,581,428,697, debtors in the District of Columbia (DC) and NY-E reported the highest average liabilities per filed petition at $429,000 and $301,000, respectively. Filers in TN-W had the lowest average liabilities at $75,000.
Income and Expenses Reported by Debtors
Tables 2A, 2B, 2D, and 2X present data on the income and expenses as reported by debtors on Official Bankruptcy Form 106Sum—Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information (B 106 Summary). Current monthly income data reflect income from all sources. Average monthly income data reflect total income for the last full six months prior to the bankruptcy filing, divided by six. The data for these tables are provided exclusively by the debtors and are not validated by the courts. A debtor typically provides the data at the time of filing or within 14 days of filing as required by Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 1007. Only data provided during the initial filing of each case are counted in Tables 2A-2X. Data for reopened and transferred cases are excluded to prevent duplicate reporting. Median values are calculated only when 10 or more cases are reported.4
Table 2X shows that 733,735 consumer cases were filed in 2019 under chapters 7, 11, and 13 across the nation and that 673,226 debtors completed the forms needed to include their data in these tables.5 The median current monthly income6 of debtors who completed the relevant forms was $3,261, a 4 percent increase from the $3,150 median current monthly income reported in 2018. The median average monthly income7 was $2,978, a 3 percent increase from 2018, and the median average expenses8 were $2,836, an increase of 3 percent from 2018. The Northern District of California had the highest median current monthly income with $4,400, and the District of Puerto Rico (PR) had the lowest median current monthly income with $1,871. Filers in the Southern District of Texas had the highest median average monthly income with $3,787, and filers in PR had the lowest median average monthly income with $1,979. Filers in the District of Alaska (AK) had the highest median average expenses with $3,745, and filers in PR had the lowest with $1,836.
Time Interval from Case Filing to Closing
In accordance with 28 U.S.C. ' 159(c)(3)(D), Table 3 reports the mean time interval between case filing and closing of consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, under chapters 7, 11, and 13 and terminated during 2019.9 The median time interval also has been included to provide perspective on the mean value by reducing the effect of data outliers, although median values are calculated only when 10 or more cases are reported.10 Reopened cases are excluded from this table because most reopened cases are filed and closed relatively quickly to settle administrative matters and do not proceed in the same way as original filings.11 For transferred cases, the mean and median time intervals are calculated from the date the case is received at the new location to the closing of the case at that location.
During the 12-month period ending December 31, 2019, a total of 746,810 consumer cases opened on or after October 17, 2006, were closed under chapters 7, 11, and 13, with a mean time interval from filing to closing of 499 days and a median time interval of 136 days. The higher mean closing time (relative to the median time) reflects particularly long-running cases (e.g., chapter 13 cases). The mean time is 4 percent lower than for 2018, and the median time is 2 percent lower than for 2018.
Of the 469,566 chapter 7 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, and closed in 2019, the mean time interval from filing to closing was 186 days (down from 190 days in 2018), and the median time interval was 114 days (up from 113 days in 2018). The Western District of Louisiana had the highest median of any district at 205 days, and PR had the lowest median at 97 days.
A total of 801 chapter 11 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, were closed in 70 districts during 2019. The mean time interval from filing to closing was 748 days (down from 763 days in 2018), and the median time interval was 534 days (down from 568 days in 2018). Only 22 districts had 10 or more chapter 11 cases closed in 2019. Of those districts, the District of Maryland had the highest median at 1,052 days, and CA-E had the lowest median at 150 days.
A total of 276,443 chapter 13 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, were closed during 2019. The mean time interval from filing to closing was 1,031 days (down from 1,057 days in 2018), and the median time interval was 976 days (down from 1,048 days in 2018). PR had the highest median at 1,873 days, and NY-E had the lowest median at 90 days. However, the median and mean do not accurately convey the time required for a typical chapter 13 case; rather, they are proxies for the percent of chapter 13 cases closed by plan completion, as completion of the plan typically takes much longer than dismissal.12
A debtor may enter into a reaffirmation agreement with a creditor to continue paying a dischargeable debt following bankruptcy. This may occur when, for example, a debtor wants to keep an automobile and continue making payments on it. If an attorney represents the debtor during the bankruptcy, the debtor’s attorney may or may not represent the debtor during negotiation of a reaffirmation agreement. For purposes of this report, a reaffirmation agreement is considered “pro se” if it was submitted without the certification of an attorney contained in Part IV of Director’s Bankruptcy Form 2400A—Reaffirmation Documents (Form B2400A) or Part C of Director’s Bankruptcy Form 2400A/B—Reaffirmation Agreement (Form B2400A/B ALT), regardless of whether the debtor was otherwise represented in the case by an attorney.
Table 4 reports only on reaffirmation agreements filed in cases under chapter 7.13 Varying local practices govern the procedures for approving and denying reaffirmation agreements filed with the courts. In many districts, the court does not issue orders with respect to reaffirmation agreements filed with certification by debtors’ attorneys. In these instances, the reaffirmation agreement between the debtor and creditor is implicitly accepted without further court action and may or may not be recorded or otherwise noted in court documentation of the case. As a result, the difference between the number of reaffirmation agreements filed and the number of reaffirmation agreements approved does not represent the number of reaffirmation agreements denied. Moreover, sometimes multiple reaffirmation agreements are submitted together, some with and others without attorney certification, and a court order may fail to specify decisions of the court on the individual reaffirmation agreements. For these reasons, the data reported for approved reaffirmation agreements may not be representative of the total number of valid reaffirmation agreements executed by the parties.
As Table 4 illustrates, a total of 152,226 reaffirmation agreements were reported as filed in 481,471 chapter 7 consumer cases closed during the 12-month period ending December 31, 2019. The Northern District of Illinois (IL-N) had the highest total number of cases in which reaffirmation agreements were filed (5,587), followed by the Middle District of Florida (FL-M) (5,473) and the Central District of California (5,146 cases). Nationwide, 23 percent of chapter 7 cases closed had at least one reaffirmation agreement filed, up less than 1 percentage point from 2018. The Northern District of Florida reported the highest percentage of cases closed that had at least one reaffirmation agreement filed (44 percent). In 9 percent of cases with reaffirmation agreements filed, one or more agreements were submitted without attorney certification (pro se). The District of Kansas (KS) had the highest number of cases in which at least one pro se reaffirmation agreement was filed (1,129 cases). At least one pro se reaffirmation agreement was filed in 2 percent of chapter 7 cases closed. The Middle District of Alabama (35 percent of cases) and KS (30 percent) had the highest percentage of chapter 7 cases closed in which one or more pro se reaffirmation agreements were filed.
Less than 1 percent of cases in which a reaffirmation agreement was filed had at least one reaffirmation agreement approved by order of the court. However, as described above, this does not indicate that reaffirmation agreements were denied in 99 percent of the cases. In 2019, the District of Montana reported the highest percentage of cases in which at least one reaffirmation agreement had been approved (38 percent), followed by the Southern District of Illinois (5 percent) and AK (1 percent). These three districts accounted for 78 percent of the cases in which at least one reaffirmation agreement was approved.
Property Valuation Orders
In some cases, motions are made to the court to determine the value of property securing an allowed claim under 11 U.S.C. §§ 506 and 1325 and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 3012. Table 5 shows the number of cases closed in 2019 in which final orders were entered determining the value of property securing a claim in an amount less than the amount of the claim, as well as the number of final orders entered determining the value of property securing a claim. Additional columns of data were added to provide further perspective on the required data.
A total of 280,990 chapter 13 consumer cases were closed in 2019. Final orders determining the value of property securing a claim were entered in 11,726 of the cases. In 7,909 cases, the value of property was reported in one or more final orders; in 4,967 (63 percent) of those cases, at least one final order valued the property at less than the full amount of the claim.
A case may have more than one final order determining the value of property securing a claim. In total, 15,410 final orders were entered in the 11,726 cases. Determinations of the value of property were reported in 10,939 final orders, of which 6,612 (60 percent) were valued below the amount of the claim. The Southern District of Florida (FL-S) reported that 2,863 final orders had been entered determining the value of property securing a claim, the highest total of any district. Fifty-three percent of the final orders determining the value of property securing a claim (15,410 final orders) were entered in five districts (FL-S, the District of South Carolina, IL-N, TN-W, and FL-M); 32 districts reported no final orders determining the value of property securing a claim.
Chapter 13 Cases Closed by Dismissal or Plan Completion14
Table 6 shows the number of cases in which plans were completed in chapter 13 consumer cases, separately itemized by the number of modifications made to the plans. Table 6 also reports the number of chapter 13 consumer cases dismissed, the number dismissed for failure to make payments under the plan, and the number refiled after dismissal. For purposes of this table, a chapter 13 consumer case is counted as “refiled after dismissal” if the case was filed during the reporting period by one or more debtors who were party to a separate chapter 13 consumer case that was dismissed no more than 180 days prior to the filing date of the current case. Cases that are reopened are not included in the total for cases refiled after dismissal.
A total of 280,990 chapter 13 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, were closed by dismissal or plan completion in 2019. Table 6 illustrates that 159,558 of these cases were dismissed. In 43 percent of the cases closed (121,248 cases), the debtors received a discharge after completing repayment plans, down from 45 percent in 2018. Among districts with at least 10 closed cases, the District of Vermont (VT) had the highest percentage of cases (82 percent) closed by plan completion, followed by the District of Nebraska and KS (68 percent each). Of the 121,248 chapter 13 consumer cases in which debtors completed repayment plans, 27,294 (23 percent) had plans that were modified at least once prior to plan completion, up from 22 percent in 2018.
Nationwide, failure to make plan payments was cited in 50 percent of cases as the reason for dismissal, unchanged from 2018. Among districts with at least 10 closed cases, the Eastern District of North Carolina had the greatest percentage of dismissals (84 percent) that were for failure to make payments. NY-E had the lowest percentage of its dismissals made for failure to make payments (10 percent), followed by DC (11 percent). Table 6 shows that 22,895 cases were refiled after dismissal.
Prior Filings Reported by Debtors
Table 7 reports the number of cases in which individual debtors with primarily consumer debts filed for protection under chapter 13 during the reporting period and stated on Official Bankruptcy Form 101—Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy (Form B101) that they previously had filed a case under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code during the preceding eight years (“prior filings”). For this table, data are captured at the time of filing, and only data on the initial filing of each case are counted. Data on reopened cases are excluded to prevent duplicate reporting. The data for Table 7 are provided exclusively by the debtors and are subject to the limitations described in the section above on debtor-provided data.
In 39 percent of the 276,855 (107,117) chapter 13 cases filed in 2019, debtors stated that they had filed a bankruptcy petition during the previous eight years. In the remaining 169,738 cases, debtors stated that they had not filed for bankruptcy during the previous eight years. In 2019, the District of Idaho recorded the highest percentage of cases with prior filings at 57 percent, followed by the District of Utah (56 percent). The districts with the lowest percentage of cases in which debtors indicated prior filings were VT (15 percent of cases) and the District of South Dakota (18 percent).
Creditor Misconduct and Punitive Damages
28 U.S.C. ' 159(c)(3)(G) requires the Director of the AO to report on “the number of cases in which creditors were fined for misconduct and any amount of punitive damages awarded by the court for creditor misconduct.” Creditor misconduct, however, is not a specific cause of action under the Bankruptcy Code. At least five violations of the Bankruptcy Code could be considered creditor misconduct:
- involuntary petition filed in bad faith (11 U.S.C. § 303(i)(2)),
- willful violation of the automatic stay (11 U.S.C. § 362(k)(1)),
- collusive bidding (11 U.S.C. § 363(n)),
- creditor request for a determination of dischargeability of consumer debt that is subsequently discharged was not substantially justified (11 U.S.C. § 523(d)), and
- violation of the injunction against attempting to collect a discharged debt (11 U.S.C. § 524(a)(2) and (3)).
At least six other activities related to litigation procedures could also be considered creditor misconduct under certain circumstances:
- improper activity related to pretrial conference and order (Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7016),
- sanctionable discovery requests, responses, or objections (Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7026),
- failure to make disclosures or cooperate in discovery (Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7037),
- failure to prosecute or to comply with court orders and rules (Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7041),
- sanctionable filings (Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9011), and
- unreasonably or vexatiously multiplying proceedings (28 U.S.C. § 1927).
What may be reported as creditor misconduct in one district may not be reported in another. In addition, because a creditor may be reprimanded or penalized for misconduct in many ways, many of which may not be explicitly recorded on a court’s docket as a sanction, this table does not provide a comprehensive picture of sanctions imposed against creditors in bankruptcy courts. Moreover, a sanction imposed for creditor misconduct is likely limited to what is sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. Although sanctions may consist of or include directives of a nonmonetary nature, an order to pay a penalty into court, or an order directing payment to the movant of some or all of the reasonable attorneys' fees and other expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation, the Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure do not permit the award of punitive damages for every violation classifiable as creditor misconduct. However, only punitive damages are reflected in the Table 8 series.
Table 8X shows that creditors were fined for misconduct in 23 consumer cases closed during 2019 and that orders to pay punitive damages totaling $15,639 were issued in 8 of those cases.
Rule 9011 Sanctions Imposed Against Debtors' Attorneys
Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9011 provides that attorneys may be sanctioned for improper or frivolous representations to the court submitted in any petition, pleading, written motion, or other paper. The rule states that "[a] sanction imposed for violation of this rule shall be limited to what is sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated." Any "sanction may consist of, or include, directives of a nonmonetary nature, an order to pay a penalty into court, or . . . an order directing payment to the movant of some or all of the reasonable attorneys' fees and other expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation." Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9011(c)(2). The Table 9 series captures only misconduct by debtors’ attorneys that rises to the level required for sanctions under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9011. Because a debtors' attorney may be reprimanded or penalized for misconduct in other ways, this table does not provide a comprehensive picture of sanctions imposed against debtors' attorneys in bankruptcy courts.
Table 9X shows that of the 763,561 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, and terminated in 2019, sanctions were imposed against debtors’ attorneys in 12 cases, with damages totaling $30,939 awarded in 10 cases.
1 Consumer cases filed under chapter 11 are relatively infrequent and are generally believed to result when debtors exceed the debt limits of 11 U.S.C. ' 109(e), which restricts chapter 13 to debtors with less than $419,275 in noncontingent, liquidated, unsecured debts and less than $1,257,850 of noncontingent, liquidated, secured debts
2 Debtors calculate their average monthly income and average monthly expenses and report them to the courts on line 10 of Official Bankruptcy Form 106I—Schedule I: Your Income (B 106I) and line 22 of Official Bankruptcy Form 106J—Schedule J Your Expenses (B 106J). The AO then calculates the median of the average monthly incomes reported by debtors for all districts and circuits.
3 "C" is reserved for cases filed under chapter 12, which does not apply to consumer cases.
4 It is not meaningful to calculate medians when the number of cases is small. For this reason, the AO does not calculate medians for fewer than 10 cases at any aggregate level (e.g., district, circuit).
5 The number of cases with completed schedules differs between the Table 1 series and the Table 2 series because those tables draw data from different parts of the summary of schedules. If a debtor completed all necessary fields for inclusion in the Table 1 series, but not the Table 2 series, then that case and its data were included in the appropriate tables in the Table 1 series but not in the Table 2 series, and vice versa.
6 Current monthly income is provided by chapter 7 debtors on line 11 of Official Bankruptcy Form 122A-1—Chapter 7 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income (B 122A-1), by chapter 11 debtors on line 11 of Official Bankruptcy Form 122B—Chapter 11 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income (B 122B), and by chapter 13 debtors on line 11 of Official Bankruptcy Form 122C-1—Chapter 13 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period (B 122C-1).
7 See note 2.
8 See note 2.
9 The time interval measures can be influenced by the proportion of cases filed to cases terminated, where a stable proportion creates better comparability year over year.
10 See note 6.
11 Tables 4, 5, 6, 8A-8X, and 9A-9X include reopened cases, whereas Table 3 does not include reopened cases. Accordingly, the total for cases closed in Table 3 may differ from the total in other tables.
12 See Table 6.
13 Although reaffirmation agreements are technically possible under other chapters of the Bankruptcy Code, they are found almost exclusively in chapter 7 cases. Because no modification of a secured creditor’s rights may be obtained under chapter 7 without consent of the creditor, a debtor who wishes to retain collateral securing a claim must negotiate a reaffirmation agreement acceptable to the creditor. In contrast, under chapters 11, 12, and 13, subject to certain restrictions, the terms of a secured claim may be altered to allow the debtor to retain use of the collateral, thereby obviating the need for a reaffirmation agreement.
14 In some circumstances, a chapter 13 plan can be “completed” (e.g., all payments have been made pursuant to the plan, all required documents and certifications have been filed, and the chapter 13 trustee has filed the final report), but the debtor does not or cannot receive a discharge.