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Area bankruptcy filings keep piling up in October

Area bankruptcy filings - which surpassed the full-year record in September - charged on at a high pace in northwest Ohio in October, spiked by cuts in overtime, layoffs, and continued easy credit.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Toledo stamped 699 new cases last month, up 40 percent from the 501 cases submitted in the same month last year from 21 counties.

Through the end of October, the court received 6,764 filings. The previous full-year record was 5,713 filings in 1998.

Nearly all of the filings are Chapter 7 cases where debtors request to be excused from most of what they owe. Such filings are up 48 percent compared to the first 10 months of last year. Chapter 13 cases, where debtors repay more of what they owe, have increased at only half that rate.

Chapter 11 business filings numbered 14 through October, up from nine for the same period last year.

For a single month, October's total filings were far from a record. In March, the court received 876 filings, followed by 846 in April. Those months are often among the highest for bankruptcy filings.

The bankruptcy boom is likely to keep going in 2002, said Ed Snyder, a Springfield Township attorney who specializes in bankruptcies.

His typical bankruptcy client is a couple with two children and two mortgages on a home they have owned for a few years. Many earn $27,000 to $53,000 a year and have credit card debt.

But any major change in income - a loss of overtime or one spouse being laid off - leaves them unable to manage their debt load and lifestyle.

“They're just in over their heads,” said Mr. Snyder, who expects to handle 200 bankruptcies this year - almost twice his usual number.

Even so, before bankruptcy filings are complete most of his clients have received two or three new credit cards, he said.

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