12 Mar 2010

Bankruptcy Filings on the Rise in Jacksonville

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The following article was featured on First Coast News on March 10, 2010.

Len Keise – Taren Reed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — If you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, you aren’t alone. The number of people unable to pay their bills is growing. For some, the only way out they see is bankruptcy.

In his six years of practice, attorney Eugene Johnson with the Johnson Law Firm has never helped so many clients file for bankruptcy protection.

“This economy has hit just about everyone that I can see,” said Johnson.

Johnson has seen a varying degree of clients, including everyone from those with six-figure incomes to the unemployed.  “We see all folks from all walks of life,” said Johnson, “We have represented doctors, lawyers on down to your average blue collar midnight shift worker.”

Across the United States bankruptcy filings are steadily rising.  “From 2006 to the present, you’ve probably seen a jump of about 100 percent, meaning that in 2006 there was approximately 600,000 bankruptcies filed nationwide. Last year alone, it was about 1.2 million.” The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District, which includes Jacksonville, is the third busiest bankruptcy court in the nation.

In 2008, there were 42,557 filings in the district. That jumped to 61,690 filings in 2009, resulting in a 45 percent increase.

“We expect even more this year,” said Johnson.

In Jacksonville specifically, there were 8,412 filings in 2008 compared to 11,144 filings in 2009. That’s an increase of 32 percent.  “If you need to file, you need to file. And the realities are such that most folks only have enough income coming in the door to pay necessary bills and living expenses,” said Johnson.
Johnson only expects more of that same reality and more clients coming through his door as the economy sluggishly rebounds.

“Last month there were 5,000 filings in the Middle District,” said Johnson.

It’s important to note that filing bankruptcy is a life-changing decision that should be made with lots of thought.