Bankruptcy filings climb in January

By WILL ASTOR - 2/4/2013 4:05:31 PM

Rochester-area bankruptcies saw a double-digit rise in January, marking the first time in more than a year filings went up in the federal court’s Western District of New York Rochester division.

The 179 Rochester-area bankruptcy filings recorded last month by Western District Bankruptcy Court clerk showed a 27-case increase over the 152 petitions filed in the division in January 2012 and a 39-case increase from the 140 cases filed in December.

Whether the bankruptcy increase portends a reversal of the region’s long-term trend of declining filings remains to be seen. The 17.8 percent year-over-year leap and 28 percent increase from the preceding month follows a period of modest economic gains, but also comes after a month in which the area’s total payroll fell marginally.
Bankruptcy lawyer Douglas Lustig of Chamberlain, D’Amanda, Oppenheimer & Greenfield LLP sees the double-digit January filings increase as no more than a blip, in what he expects to be a mostly stable picture.

After months of decline, area filings are likely to begin to go up modestly in 2013, but any future upswings would be modest, Lustig predicted. He explained the January upswing as most likely due to a backlog of people who had put off bankruptcy filings during the holiday season.
Monroe County petitioners, who were responsible for 119 of the region’s January filings, accounted for well over half of the nine-county division’s January bankruptcies. The Rochester division also includes the counties of Livingston, Ontario, Wayne counties as well as Chemung, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben and Yates counties.
The region’s January filings by chapter broke down to 117 Chapter 7 cases, 57 Chapter 13 filings and five Chapter 11 petitions.

Chapter 7 filers seek to liquidate assets and use proceeds to pay creditors anywhere from zero to 100 cents on each dollar owed. Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 filers are supposed to follow court-monitored plans to pay part or all of their debts over time.  
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