Portfolio Recovery Associates Files New Wave of Credit Card Lawsuits

Portfolio Recovery Associates has recently filed a new wave of lawsuits in Whitfield County Magistrate Court.  Often these lawsuits are based upon charged off credit card balances and some are multiple years old.  Portfolio Recovery Associates usually buys these debts for steep discounts.

If you have been sued by Portfolio Recovery Associates, please give us a call.  Under Georgia Law, you only have 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.  You may have valid defenses to the debt or counterclaims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  In other situations, it may make sense for you to get a fresh start in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or have the court approve a debt adjustment plan in a Chapter 13.

Late Filed Taxes in Bankruptcy – 11th Circuit Weighs In

The 11th circuit recently issued an opinion regarding the dischargeability of taxes in bankruptcy when the debtor filed the tax return late.  In Justice vs. U.S., the debtor did not file tax returns on time.  Over a few years, the IRS issued deficiency notices and eventually assessed taxes based upon a substitute return.  The 11th Circuit determined that the tax debt could not be discharged in bankruptcy.  The Court followed the so-called Beard test regarding whether the debtor made an honest attempt at complying with applicable tax law.  Because the debtor filed returns so many years late and only after the IRS made the tax assessment, the Court ruled against the debtor.

If you owe back taxes or are suffering under the heavy hand of the IRS collection process, we may be able to help.  At Hurtt & Johnson, our attorneys have successfully discharged over one million dollars of federal and state tax debts through the bankruptcy courts.  For taxes that cannot be discharged, our attorneys assist clients with halting the government’s collection efforts and approving an affordable repayment plan through the court.  Please call us today to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation to evaluate your options.

Nice Cars Lawsuit

Have you been served with a Nice Cars lawsuit?  As with the wave of cases in the past, local residents who purchased vehicles from Nice Cars or Navigator Auto Sales may have defenses available, such as under the Georgia Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act and the Uniform Commercial Code.  Many lawsuits on repossessed vehicles are past the applicable statute of limitations.  Sometimes counterclaims can even be lodged for unlawful repossession or malfunctioning automatic car shutdown devices.

A Nice Cars lawsuit involves the allegation of a deficiency balance owing on a repossessed vehicle.  In Georgia, car lenders who repossess a vehicle must follow certain protocol for auctioning the vehicle and pursuing any remaining amounts owed.  Due to high interest rates and low auction values, many former Nice Cars or Navigator car buyers find themselves owing more than the car was originally worth.

At Hurtt & Johnson, we have handled hundreds of deficiency balance claims on repossessed vehicles, many of which involved Nice Cars and Navigator.  If you have been served with a Nice Cars lawsuit on a repossessed vehicle, please call and schedule a free and confidential consultation with our attorneys.

New Bankruptcy Forms Effective 2015

Many official Bankruptcy forms were either replaced or updated on December 1, 2015. While much of the required information is the same, the forms have been substantially revised in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases.  The updates are part of the continuing forms modernization project that began in 2008.

One of the noteworthy changes is that separate forms are available in personal bankruptcy cases versus business bankruptcy cases.  With such a large increase in the number of possible forms to use, it is as important as ever to hire a competent bankruptcy attorney.

We offer free and confidential consultations and handle bankruptcy matters both large and small for individuals, businesses, and family farmers.

Frederick J. Hanna & Associates Lawsuit

Frederick J. Hanna & Associates suffered a defeat in federal court recently when the judge denied a motion to dismiss a complaint filed by federal regulators against the law firm.  Fred Hanna and Associates have been accused of operating like a factory and filing thousands of lawsuits on credit card debts against Georgia residents without much, if any, attorney review.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says Fred Hanna lawsuits violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Consumer Financial Protection act by using deceptive or misleading practices.

The law firm of Frederick J. Hanna & Associates regularly represents credit card companies and collection agencies in lawsuits against Northwest Georgia residents in Dalton, Chatsworth, and the surrounding Whitfield and Murray Counties.  If you have been served with a demand letter or legal papers by Fred Hanna’s law firm, please call us today to review your legal rights and remedies with a free consultation.  We can inform you of your legal rights and fight the lawsuit or consider whether a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the best course of action.

Supreme Court Rejects Chapter 7 Lien Stripping

In the recent opinion of Bank of America v. Caulket, the Supreme Court overruled the 11th Circuit’s practice of permitting debtors in chapter 7 bankruptcies to eliminate underwater second mortgages. The 11th circuit includes Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.

While this is certainly a let down for our hard-hit Northwest Georgia residents suffering from a steep decline in housing prices, especially in Dalton and Chatsworth, the opportunity still exists for eliminating second mortgages in a chapter 13 reorganization.  The bright-line rule is that if your home is worth less than what you owe on your first mortgage, then you can undo (“strip”) the second mortgage making in an unsecured debt, like a credit card.

If you are struggling with maintaining multiple mortgage payments or simply want to review your options, please call us today for a free and confidential consultation.

Nice Cars Lawsuits – Repossessed Vehicle – Deficiency Balance Claims

Have you been served with a Nice Cars lawsuit?  As with the wave of cases in the past, local residents who purchased vehicles from Nice Cars or Navigator Auto Sales may have defenses available, such as under the Georgia Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act and the Uniform Commercial Code.  Many lawsuits on repossessed vehicles are past the applicable statute of limitations.  Sometimes counterclaims can even be lodged for unlawful repossession or malfunctioning automatic car shutdown devices.

A Nice Cars lawsuit involves the allegation of a deficiency balance owing on a repossessed vehicle.  In Georgia, car lenders who repossess a vehicle must follow certain protocol for auctioning the vehicle and pursuing any remaining amounts owed.  Due to high interest rates and low auction values, many former Nice Cars or Navigator car buyers find themselves owing more than the car was originally worth.

At the Hurtt Law Firm, we have handled hundreds of deficiency balance claims on repossessed vehicles, many of which involved Nice Cars and Navigator.  If you have been served with a Nice Cars lawsuit on a repossessed vehicle, please call and schedule a free and confidential consultation with our attorneys.

Georgia Assembly Should Amend Writ of Possession Laws to Protect Family Farmers

Georgia law allows a lender to quickly obtain a court order to repossess property of a borrower with a Writ of Possession.  Unlike normal lawsuits, petitions for writs of possession require immediate responses.  O.C.G.A. § 44-14-230 et seq. provides that borrowers must respond within 7 days of service of the summons.

Such a short time-frame unfairly affects Georgia’s farmers.  Many farmers, be they in poultry, livestock, logging, or traditional crops, have their equipment financed with lending institutions.  A missed flock or bad weather can easily lead to a missed payment and a petition for a writ of possession for the financed equipment.  A mere 7 days to respond is not enough.  Our farmers have demanding jobs and are usually many miles from the courthouse and legal offices.  Moreover, many farmers organize their business under a corporation, which means the farmer cannot represent the corporation in the lawsuit — an attorney must be hired.  Seven days simply isn’t enough time.

The Georgia legislature should amend O.C.G.A. § 44-14-230 et seq. to provide a longer response period or other safeguards in order to protect our local family farmers, be they in Dalton, Resaca, Lafayette, Chatsworth, or anywhere in Northwest Georgia.

Often times, farmers faced with a writ of possession are best served by filing a Chapter 12 Reorganization.  Chapter 12 is a special bankruptcy chapter for family farmers.  They can keep their farm and their assets, while they restructure their debts.  It puts a stop to the writ of possession and any other foreclosure or repossession efforts.  We have saved individual clients hundreds of thousands of dollars through the Chapter 12 process.

Michael D. Hurtt Awarded for Outstanding Legal Service by Georgia Legal Services

We are proud that our managing attorney, Michael D. Hurtt, was recently recognized by the Dalton Regional Office of the Georgia Legal Services Program for outstanding legal service to the community.  He received the Private Attorney Involvement Leadership Award for 2013 for his longstanding commitment to offering pro bono service and support to the local community in bankruptcy law.  Georgia Legal Services also gave a special thank you to our associate attorney, David W. Johnson, for volunteering his time and expertise at the Free Legal Advice Clinic held at the Mack Gaston Community Center in Dalton, Georgia.

Attorneys should strive to give back to their local communities and our attorneys at the Hurtt Law Firm follow through with this responsibility.  We understand that residents of Dalton, Chatsworth, and Northwest Georgia in financial distress have few places to turn.  When good people fall on hard times, a bankruptcy can provide a fresh start and an aggressive attorney can provide peace of mind.

Business Owners Beware – Personal Tax Liability for Discretionary Payments

In an alarming decision earlier this year, an Indiana District Court extended personal liability of business owners for their company’s taxes.  The Court ruled in US vs. Sperry that where a business owner exercises discretion to pay salaries or other creditors, instead of paying non-trust fund taxes to the IRS, the owner can be personally liable under 31 U.S.C. § 3713.

It has been well-known in the bankruptcy world that trust fund taxes, such as withholding taxes, are collectible against the business owner or person responsible.  Therefore, these taxes were always top priority for payment when a business needed to be shut down.  Other taxes, however, were not high on the priority list because business owners are typically protected through the corporate, limited liability model.

However, this new ruling changes this priority scheme.  Business owners who are winding down their operation should pay careful attention to what discretionary payments they make.  If credit cards, trade debt, or salaries are paid instead of even non-trust fund taxes, the business owner may find themselves liable to the IRS.  Such a predicament may force the business owner into their own insolvency and needing to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.