Will my bankruptcy be published in the newspaper?!

Probably not. Even if it is, you shouldn’t care. Here’s the deal:

A bankruptcy filing is public. With the rare exception of pleadings filed under seal (usually done in criminal cases or in legal matters in which sensitive matters such as medical issues are revealed) all legal pleadings, including bankruptcy filings, are available to the public. Anyone can go to the courthouse (or, in this day and age, log into the court’s website) and view them.

So, it is entirely possible that when you file an overly bored newspaper reporter will decide to trudge down to the bankruptcy court to get a list of all filings for the day, week, or month to use as filler for a really slow news day. But I can’t imagine that happening. There’s too much other juicy gossip in the world- celebrity divorces, new products from Apple, blockbuster movie revenues, etc.- to pull from. You know, things that people really (and unfortunately) care about.

The truth is that most of us are simply not newsworthy. And that’s a good thing. Your bankruptcy will matter, at most, to your family. (In my experience, most of my clients’ families are very supportive.) Think about it: would you take time out of your busy day to read an 8 or 10 point typed list, buried on page 8 of your newspaper, of recent bankruptcy filers? Probably not.

Of course, it’s possible that your bankruptcy will be published if it’s legitimately newsworthy. I have represented my share of semi-famous and infamous individuals and companies who have filed bankruptcy. Occasionally, their filings have been in the news. What made their filings newsworthy? Well, in one instance I represented a small company owned by a large upscale development that went bust. The owner was well known (and much disliked). Many investors stood to lose a lot of money and the community was very interested in the outcome of the case. In that situation a reporter called me to discuss the case. I declined. I have represented several golf courses in chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcies in the Franklin and Rutherfordton areas of WNC. As you might imagine, the local communities were concerned with the viability of the courses. I’ve gotten reporter calls on those cases, too. In other cases, a bankruptcy filing that is otherwise not newsworthy dovetails into a larger news story about the downturn of the economy. I represented a well known local salon in Asheville who’s owner filed bankruptcy. Within the same week that my client filed another well known Asheville business owner filed bankruptcy. The local news station, WLOS, was doing a story on the downturn of the economy. The fact that 2 local businesspeople filed for bankruptcy protection gave credence to the station’s story on the economy. My client’s salon was videotaped and shown on the 11:00 news.

But these are the exceptions. As an Asheville bankruptcy lawyer I have represented clients in over 2000 bankruptcy cases throughout WNC. Of all those cases probably less than 5 have been in the news. If you’re a math person this translates to 0.25% of my cases being in the news. That’s miniscule.

But even if you’re notable, famous, or infamous I wouldn’t worry about it. Bankruptcy is a personal decision that only you can make. You’d be surprised how many people you know have filed bankruptcy and how many people will be supportive and caring if you  let them know about yours.

I’d be happy to talk with you about this, and any other, concern that you have. Call or email me today to schedule a comprehensive consultation.