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Published: Wednesday, 2/5/2003

Bankruptcy filings for January rise 18% from '02

Any hope that northwest Ohio's record pace of bankruptcy filings would abate with the turn of a new year dimmed last month.

The number of petitions logged in January at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Toledo rose 18 percent from the same month a year ago, to 614.

The filings were the most ever for a January, which is typically among the slower months of the year, said David Fickel, clerk in charge of the Toledo office.

“The dramatic-increase filing trend continues,” Mr. Fickel said. “Typically, January represents a relatively modest filing month. Only 332 total cases were filed during January as recently as 2000.”

Until 2001, the local court that accepts filings from 21 northwest Ohio counties had never had a month with more than 600 filings. Last year, just one month, January, had fewer than 600.

Most of the activity last month involved individuals seeking to extinguish debts.

So-called Chapter 7 petitions, which allow consumers and businesses to wipe out bills except for secured debts such as home mortgages and car and boat notes, rose 15 percent to 535 compared with January, 2002.

The biggest percentage increase, however, was in Chapter 13 petitions in which individual wage earners work with creditors on a plan to repay all or a portion of debts. Such filings rose to 78 from 52 a year earlier.

One business filed for Chapter 11 reorganization last month, compared with two in the prior-year period.

For the year, bankruptcy filings in 2002 rose 11 percent to a record 8,853.

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