Not all debts are wiped out by declaring personal bankruptcy. There are dischargeable and non-dischargeable debts. If you have a judgment pending against you, that judgment may be determined to be non-dischargeable.
That was the case for the man who pleaded guilty to interstate stalking charges for pursuing sportscaster and "Dancing with the Stars" co-host Erin Andrews. He secretly videotaping her through the peephole in her hotel room and then put the video on the Internet. He spent to two-and-a-half years behind bars for his actions.
Andrews sued him as well as the company that owned the hotel where she was staying at the time in civil court. Earlier this year, she was awarded $55 million in damages. Her stalker is responsible for 51 percent of that judgment.
Andrews and her attorneys reached a settlement with the hotel owners, West End Hotel Partners, after the judgment was handed down. However, the man who made the video had filed for bankruptcy after being released from prison in 2012.
Andrews' attorneys filed a motion with the bankruptcy court to prevent him from getting out of his payment obligation to her because of his filing. This month, a bankruptcy judge ruled in favor of Andrews, stating that the damages awarded to her are non-dischargeable.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy because you have been ordered to pay a judgment in a civil lawsuit that you can't afford to pay, it's essential to determine whether doing so will help you. It may be best to work towards some other type of agreement with the plaintiff in the suit. A Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney can advise you of all of your options.
Source: CBS 8, "Erin Andrews' Stalker Will Still Have to Pay Damages Despite Declaring Bankruptcy," Zach Seemayer, Entertainment Tonight, July 12, 2016