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Published: Friday, 7/8/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Toledo bankruptcy filings fall for 10th straight month

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

As trends go, this is a good one to have.

At the midway point of 2011, the number of bankruptcy cases filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Toledo has dropped by double digits on a year-over-year basis for 10 straight months, with last month marking the lowest number of filings in the month of June since 2007.

In fact, the streak of declining bankruptcy cases extends even longer than that, to April, 2010. The only outlier was a one-month increase last August.

"In my mind, we're undoubtedly on the downward slide," said Joe Westmeyer III, a local bankruptcy attorney.

"I don't think we're going to spike up to where we were a couple years ago, but I still think there are a lot of unresolved foreclosures out there that are ultimately going to start pushing bankruptcy cases and keep [the filing numbers] more steady."

Nationally, consumers filed 709,303 bankruptcies through June, 7.9 percent fewer than in the same period a year earlier, said the American Bankruptcy Institute, based in Alexandria, Va.

"The drop in bankruptcies for the first half of the year shows the continued efforts of consumers to reduce their household debt, and the overall pullback in consumer credit," ABI Executive Director Samuel Gerdano said in a statement.

Filings nationally in June rose 4.3 percent from a month earlier, when personal bankruptcies declined the most since October, 2006. Consumers filed 114,803 bankruptcies in May, down from 136,142 a year earlier, the ABI reported last month.

Locally, there were 566 bankruptcy cases filed in June, down 21 percent from the 719 cases in June, 2010. The 21 percent decline was identical to the ones recorded for filings in May and April in the local court, which covers a 21-county region of northwest Ohio.

So far this year, 3,654 cases have been filed locally, down 19 percent from the 4,518 cases filed during the first half of 2010, according to figures compiled by Bankruptcy Court Clerk David Fickel.

The local court experienced a decline in all of the different types of bankruptcy filings so far this year.

Of the total cases filed, 3,289 are Chapter 7 liquidation cases, down 20 percent from the first half of 2010, while 355 are Chapter 13 repayment plan cases, down 11 percent from a year ago.

There have been 10 Chapter 11 business bankruptcies so far this year, compared to 14 filed during the same period a year ago.

If the current trend holds, the number of bankruptcy cases filed in the Toledo court this year would fall to its lowest level since 2007.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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