‘Popcorn lung’ victim files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection

People in New Jersey may be familiar with the man who developed bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung,” after working in a popcorn plant. He developed the disease after breathing in toxic chemicals that are found in artificial butter flavoring on microwave popcorn. Eight years ago, he was awarded $18 million for the damage to his lungs.

Much of that money is gone now and the couple filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Due to a number of issues, the man and his wife, who was also awarded $2 million, have lost much of this settlement money. The man’s health is continuing to decline, so the couple took steps to get a fresh financial start by filing for bankruptcy.

For those dealing with mounting medical bills, harassing creditors and ongoing interest penalties, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be a very beneficial option. By filing for Chapter 7 specifically, a person can receive relief by having unsecured debt discharged. It will also stop the harassment from creditors and the process of a foreclosure or repossession.

In this case, the couple didn’t just collect $20 million in cash. At least 35 percent of the award, or $7 million, went to the man’s lawyer, and an unspecified amount was given to other affected workers. He also has to worry about his substantial medical bills, which include a possible double-lung transplant.

The couple was building a home when they fell behind on payments to the builder. A home they thought would cost just about $400,000 escalated into a nearly $4 million project. A judge ruled that because they were behind on about $107,147 in payments, the couple would not only have to catch up, but they would also be responsible a 9 percent annual interest on the payments.

These mounting charges combined with the man’s ongoing medical expenses exceeded their financial capabilities and they filed for bankruptcy. They must also sell the $3.9 million home they built in order to reimburse their creditors. It is important to note here that many people who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy do not have to give up properties and necessities. However, depending on circumstances, it may be a possibility.

Dealing with debt and the possibility of bankruptcy can be overwhelming for most people. However, with strong legal support throughout the process, a person can wipe away their debt and get a fresh start.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Popcorn Lung Couple, Eric And Cassandra Peoples, Files For Bankruptcy,” Oct. 16, 2012

Related Posts: Suze Orman: Why bankruptcy can be better than the alternative, Can you file for bankruptcy…again?, Actress files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Tech entrepreneur files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

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Attorney Joel R. Spivack is an experienced bankruptcy and residential real estate transactions lawyer in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Clients come to us for legal services, but what we really provide is peace of mind. For more than 30 years, Attorney Spivack has helped people make wise, informed decisions about bankruptcy filings, debt relief options and residential real estate transactions.
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