How can I go about collecting from a bankrupt customer? 18 Answers as of August 02, 2011

I am a contractor who did work for a customer on 2/21/11. The total invoice amount was $2,045.00. I filed a civil suit against the customer on 7/1/11 and then found out the wife filed Chapter 7 on 6/30/11. Also found out the husband filed Chapter 7 on 11/5/10. The invoice was made out to the husband and the husband signed the invoice accepting the charges. The husband did not tell me he had filed Chapter 7. The work completed was replacement of the well pump and pressure tank. The wife recently told me she is the deed holder for the property. Do I have the legal right to take the materials back and resell? How do I proceed with collecting the debt or should I right it off?

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Heupel Law
Heupel Law | Kevin Heupel
Collecting from a debtor in bankruptcy is complicated and violating the bankruptcy laws can result in serious penalties against you. Based on your scenario below, you cannot collect from the wife. Your debt was incurred prior to her filing bankruptcy, and thus, will be discharged. As for the husband, you can collect the debt and may be able to put a contractor’s lien on the property despite the wife filing for bankruptcy. However, be sure to get legal advice from a bankruptcy attorney who is a “creditor” attorney before taking any action towards collecting the debt.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 8/9/2011
Ray Fisher Law Offices
Ray Fisher Law Offices | Ray Fisher
You need to talk to a lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/2/2011
Glen A. Kurtis, P.C.
Glen A. Kurtis, P.C. | Glen A. Kurtis
You can collect against the husband. The work was done after the bankruptcy was filed so there is no way it could have been included in the filing. If the wife included it in her bank. then there is no way to collect it against her.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/2/2011
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
As to the husband it is a post petition debt and it is not discharged. I don't think it matters that the wife is the owner of the property. Wait until her bankruptcy is over and sue husband for the money. You can't just go on the property and take back the materials. And, Because you did the work within 6 months of wife filing for bankruptcy you could also file an action in the bankruptcy court to have that declared non -dischargeable as to her on the grounds of fraud. You should talk to a lawyer who can look at the invoice and see if there is an attorneys fees provision and to see exactly who the debtor is on this invoice.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/1/2011
Law Office of Felipe A. Malo, P.A.
Law Office of Felipe A. Malo, P.A. | Felipe Augusto Malo
If u were included in either of their bankruptcy u cannot collect
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/1/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    When a person files bankruptcy and later incurs debt the post-petition debt is collectible using all available means under the law.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Eric J. Benzer, Attorney at Law
    Eric J. Benzer, Attorney at Law | Eric Benzer
    File claim
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Law Office of Harry L Styron
    Law Office of Harry L Styron | Harry L Styron
    If you filed the necessary documents to create a mechanics lien you are secured and are entitled to enforce your security against the property. If you didn't then you are unsecured, and the debt was discharged by the wife's bankruptcy. In California because community property is subject to the bankruptcy regardless of which spouse files, unsecured community debts are discharged when either one files.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Lewis Adams and Associates
    Lewis Adams and Associates | Lewis P. Adams
    If you entered into a contractual relationship with the husband three months after he filed a Chapter 7 petition in bankruptcy, the contract is valid and you would have a right to collect from the husband. The bankruptcy would only impact his pre-petition debt or obligations in most cases. I would be cautious about taking materials from property owned by the wife since the automatic stay may protect any property she owns that would considered part of the bankruptcy estate.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    You can sue the husband in small claims court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
    If you sued the husband, you should pursue him for payment through available judicial means.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Lake Forest Bankruptcy
    Lake Forest Bankruptcy | Anerio V. Altman, Esq.
    The answer is that you may have a cause of action against the Husband, but not the wife. You may also have the ability to proceed against the house itself under California law. You should get your papers together and speak to an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Colorado Legal Solutions
    Colorado Legal Solutions | Stephen Harkess
    You need to have an attorney review the matter carefully before you proceed as attempting to collect a debt in violation of a bankruptcy order can be very costly. Based on your information, it sounds like the debt to you was incurred by the Husband after he filed for bankruptcy. In that case, you should be able to proceed to collect from him. The wife, who filed bankruptcy after the debt was created, is not a proper target for collection.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    As I understand your facts, the husband entered into the contract after he filed bankruptcy. The operative date for determining if something is discharged in bankruptcy, is the date the petition is filed. Even if the case is still open when the work was done that is totally irrelevant. If that is the case, then the contract was post-petition and is NOT included in his bankruptcy, was not discharged and you can still sue him. Unless you filed a mechanic's lien on the real property, you have no right to seek any recovery from the real property, nor can you remove the equipment as you have no interest in them once they are installed unless you had a mechanic's lien.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Ursula G. Barrios Law
    Ursula G. Barrios Law | Guillermo Machado
    Can write off or sue debtors in BK court for fraud if you can prove it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    You need a lawyer. If he filed bankruptcy before hiring you, he probably has no legal protection from you. As for whether you can pursue the wife, you would need to talk with a lawyer about your options. You may not have any with her, and you risk violating her bankruptcy if you act improperly.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley | Maureen O'Malley
    Sorry, you can't collect unless there was true fraud. If it was an asset case (distributions to creditors) you can object, but otherwise Ch.7 is a complete bar.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 7/31/2011
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