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New York courts scramble to help debtors in wake of Sandy

It seems that people seeking debt relief and trying to stop wage garnishment, protections afforded by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court system, may have to be a little patient while the New York region recovers from Superstorm Sandy.

With the side effects of the natural disaster still being felt, many New York bankruptcy courts are struggling to manage their caseloads, many of which involve debt relief for struggling consumers. The problems hampering the courts from proceeding include power outages, a lack of working transportation and damage and flooding to buildings.

Things are so bad that on Nov. 5, judges were given rare approval to hear cases using courts outside their jurisdictions. As a result, judges are hearing and ruling on cases in Brooklyn, White Plains, and any other place where they can find useable space. Bankruptcy courts are making the extra effort to accommodate court cases because the people and businesses involved in the cases are depending on the court proceedings to help them save their assets or move forward with their business plans, and time is of the essence.

Some judges are allowing lawyers and other parties to participate in the hearings by telephone, and court orders have been posted online in more than one case. Attorneys working in the area say everyone, even adversaries, are coming together and doing their part to make sure the community is served.

Court delays can have a significant impact on the outcome of a court case, even cases that are typically straightforward like bankruptcies. New Yorkers are encouraged to keep in touch with their legal representatives to ensure their cases are serviced in a timely manner.

Source:, “Storm Causes Scramble in New York Bankruptcy Community,” Nov. 5, 2012

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