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Published: Friday, 2/2/2007

Area bankruptcy filings up from last January

Bankruptcy filings in northwest Ohio jumped in January from a year ago, perhaps indicating that the caseload may be on the rise again.

There were 307 cases filed last month for the 21 counties covered by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Toledo, up from 110 a year ago.

Most of last year, there were 300 to 400 cases a month, but January typically has a lower number than the rest of the year.

Gordon Barry, a local bankruptcy attorney, said filings were artificially low a year ago because so many potential filers had entered the system early to beat October, 2005, federal reforms that made it tougher and more expensive to seek bankruptcy protection from creditors.

"It's much more expensive," he said. But many people are looking to get their high debts forgiven because the economy has not recovered, he said. "Every day we hear about plant closings."

In January, he said, some people get tax refunds that allow them to afford to file for bankruptcy.

In the cases last month, the local court said, there were 225 Chapter 7 liquidation cases, up from 69 a year ago; 79 Chapter 13 repayment plans, up 92 percent; and three Chapter 11 business reorganizations, up from none.

For last year, there were 3,837 filings, the lowest since 1995 and down 77 percent from the record 16,883 in 2005.

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