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Jan 2015

Three years after bankruptcy, Ron buys his retirement home.

Posted by / in Virginia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy /

Three years after bankruptcy, Ron buys his retirement home.

Ron filed chapter 7 bankruptcy with me in August 2011.  He emailed to let me know he's pre-approved for a mortgage at his retirement destination, near the Virginia mountains.

Ron filed chapter 7 bankruptcy with me in August 2011. He emailed to let me know he’s pre-approved for a mortgage at his retirement destination, near the Virginia mountains.

Here’s a heart-warming email this week from “Ron.”  He filed bankruptcy with me in August 2011 and let me know he is pre-approved to buy a house in his retirement destination. His message line was “Thank you for getting us back on track….” Here are his exact words. Dear Bob,

I hope this finds you well…and Happy New Year.

You represented me in 2011 during a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. That bankruptcy was discharged in November of 2011 thanks to the hard work you, your staff and associates dedicated to my case.

Subsequently we were able to negotiate a loan modification with our mortgage company in 2013 and (17) months after the loan mod was approved we sold our house in Ashburn, VA at a nice profit. Having moved to  Central VA we are now pre-approved for a mortgage for a home that meets our downsizing requirements.
Thank you again, Bob. You gave us a new start, saved our home, allowed us to maintain equity in the property and move back to our roots in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Central Virginia. None of this could have, would have happened without your professional advice and services. All the best to you and your firm,


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Nov 2014

VA Bankruptcy Trustee Tries to Grab Support Payments

Posted by / in Virginia Bankruptcy, Virginia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy / 1 comment

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee Grabbing Alimony Payments

Esther is divorced, mother of two grade school children.  She and the kids are living on child support, alimony, and pulling money out of her retirement.  She has $10,000 left in her retirement.   Her most valuable possession is her paid for 2007 Honda Odyssey.  It has 148,000 miles.

Esther hasn’t worked in several years.  She had been a stay-at-home mom for most of the marriage. (Her retirement is from Sentara, so I’m guessing at one point she worked as a nurse.)

Esther filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy this spring in Norfolk, VA.  Her papers showed she had several unpaid medical bills.  Her largest credit card, less than $4000, was with Capital One.

The Chapter 7 trustee told the bankruptcy judge that he wanted her alimony.  Without the alimony, it’s hard to know how this family will make it.  The child support, without the alimony, is less than the rent.  The children will suffer.

The bankruptcy lawyers in Virginia, led by Darden Hutson and Daniel Press, are looking for members of the Virginia General Assembly to help moms like Esther.   We need a sponsor for a bill to clarify that spousal support cannot be taken away by the bankruptcy court.

Once we get a sponsor, the key man is Del. David Ablo (R-Springfield).

Dave Albo

Delegate Dave Albo, with his wife, Rita, and adopted son, Ben.   Del Albo is Chairman of the Courts of Justice Committee in the Virginia House of Delegates.   He will have more say than any other one person, on whether  the legislature will help women and children, by telling the bankruptcy court to keep their hands off alimony and spousal support.

Del. Albo is Chairman of the Courts of Justice Committee, in the Virginia House of Delegates.

His committee controls whether bills on bankruptcy exemptions go to a vote in the full House of Delegates.

Early in his career, Del. Ablo demonstrated his heart for children.  He served as a court-appointed guardian for neglected and abused children.

We hope that Dave Albo will show his heart for children this year by supporting our bill.


Update:  thank you Del Dave Albo!

Under Del Albo’s leadership, his committee approved this important law in an unanimous vote, January 28, 2015!



Update 2:  Passed and signed into law March 2015.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law this morning HB 2015, that fixed this problem, and protected single moms and their families.

Only one member of the 140 member Virginia General Assembly voted no.  Still, it could have gotten hung up at any point.  Three legislators deserve special thanks for their work.

Thanks go to Del Scott Surovell, who was our sponsor.

Del Dave Ablo, Chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee.  He was the key guy.  He puts people above politics.

Sen. Mark Obenshain, Chairman of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

Thank you all.


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May 2014

Freedom Debt Relief: Claims on the Radio–Are They True?

Posted by / in Blog, Virginia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Weekly Posts / No comments yet

Heard a commercial last week for Freedom Debt Relief on WTOP.


Freedom Debt Relief is very careful in their contracts. But I think they make claims on the radio that aren’t so careful.

They said that Freedom Debt Relief offers a “proven” alternative that will save “the most money” and get people out of debt in the “shortest amount of time.”  (I have a copy of the script, here.  FDR radio 0000031)

I’ve sued a couple debt relief operations, most notably Legal Helpers Debt Resolution.  I’ve shied away from going after Freedom Debt Relief.

I’ve left Freedom Debt Relief alone because their contracts are very careful.  They don’t promise anything much at all.  And while they charge a lot, it’s all right there.

They also are very careful to avoid being covered under Code of Virginia 6.2-2000,  which sets the fees that can be charged for operating a debt management plan.  (Freedom Debt Relief charges way more than they could if they were covered by that law.)  Freedom Debt Relief avoids–or carefully tries to avoid–the Virginia law, because they don’t hold the money used to settle the debts.

But the wording on radio ad doesn’t seem to be that careful.  I think their radio ad misrepresents the benefits of their service.  And a company that misrepresents the benefits of their service violate the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.  That’s Code of Virginia 59.1-200.  

Why does the radio misrepresent the benefits of their service?  Because for most people in financial difficulty, Chapter 7 bankruptcy saves them the most money and gets them out of debt in the shortest time.  I’m a bankruptcy lawyer, of course, and I really believe in how well bankruptcy works.  (You can read what some of my clients say, here.)

So, I’m gunning for them.  Next time one of my bankruptcy clients comes to me, after paying out a lot of money to Freedom Debt Relief, I’m going after them.

You can read what other people have to say–good and bad– about Freedom Debt Relief, here.  And what Consumer Reports said, here.  

 PS  We’re suing Freedom Debt Relief in 2015

I’m now suing Freedom Debt Relief on behalf of one of my bankruptcy clients.

It’s set for Fairfax General District Court in July, 2015.

We have two theories.  First, that the estimate they gave my client on what it would take to settle his debts was totally impossible.  And second, that the radio ad was a lie.  They have until the end of June to tell us their side of the story.  We’ll see what they say.

PPS  Freedom Debt Relief is trying to weasel out of the July trial by asking for arbitration

The Freedom Debt Relief contract specifies that you don’t have a right to trial by jury in your hometown.  You have to agree to arbitration by the American Arbitration Association.  But the American Arbitration Association told us they don’t handle Freedom Debt Relief anymore.  They didn’t say why.

Now Freedom’s lawyer, facing a July 9 trial date, is asking us to agree to arbitrate somewhere else.  And they are using that as an excuse to ignore our subpoena.  Here’s what they said

Is your client not interested in McCammon Group or arbitration in general? My client will file a motion to dismiss based on the arbitration clause if necessary but it seems like something we can work out. Let me know.

Based on the request for arbitration, I don’t think discovery is still in play but we will serve objections and responses directly to your office if you prefer. I do think the requests are overly broad for this dispute but am happy to work with you to narrow them.



All this shows that this arbitration business is a way for these big outfits to delay justice for the consumer.


PS  May 2016

I’m looking a a website I got to after seeing Freedom Debt Relief ad in Twitter.  Besides talking about their “proven experience”–their key claim is that how many debts they have “resolved.”  You might think that for a debt settlement  company, “resolved” would mean something like, well, settled.  Or completely taken care of. What it means to them, as far as I can tell, is they made a new payment agreement.  It does NOT mean that the consumer was able to make the payments.  Suppose Jane has $35,000 in credit cards.  She has a monthly payment of $750.  Freedom Debt Relief works out a payment agreement to pay it off at $600, instead of $750.   FDR says they have “resolved” $35,000.  Even if Jane can’t make the $600 payments either.  The way Freedom looks it it, they have “resolved” $35,000 in credit cards; if Jane can’t make the payment, that’s on Jane, not on them.

(In case that website comes down at some point, I printed it out.  It took three pages. 5-8-2016 11-48-07 AM Freedom Debt Relief 1 5-8-2016 11-49-51 AM Freedom Debt Relief 25-8-2016 11-50-25 AM Freedom Debt Relief 3)

I invite Freedom Debt relief to tell the world how many people have signed up for their program; and of those how many have actually gotten out of debt.









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