Once you file a Bankruptcy Petition, the law protects you from continued creditor harassment. The Federal Court awarded a debtor $63,000 in compensatory damages and $63,000 in punitive damages when a debt collector continued to harass a debtor after he filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This case, In Re Burch v. Bank of America decided on July 27, 2011 affirmed earlier court cases. But, this case awarded punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.
The Bankruptcy code, Section 362 provides that the filing of a bankruptcy prevents the continuation of any act to collect or recover a claim against a debtor that arose prior to the filing.
To collect money damages against a creditor or debt collector, the party must prove the following
- The bankruptcy petition was filed
- Debtors are individuals under the automatic stay provision
- Creditors received notice of the petition
- Creditor’s actions were in willful violation of the stay
- The debtor suffered damages
For a creditor’s act to be willful, under section 362 (k), the creditor need not act with specific intent, but must only commit an intentional act with knowledge of the automatic stay. Listing the creditor in the bankruptcy petition satisfies this provision. In this case the creditor continued to harass the debtor after repeatedly receiving notice of the bankruptcy.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of continued harassment after filing a Bankruptcy Petition, you have a right to sue for money damages. The rewards are significant. It is time to turn the table and fight back against heartless harassing creditors. Your fresh start after bankruptcy could be a prosperous one.
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