§ 31.10     Lawsuits
Cite as:    Keith M. Lundin, Lundin On Chapter 13, § 31.10, at ¶ ____, LundinOnChapter13.com (last visited __________).

Debtor’s counsel has to identify and analyze all pending litigation by or against the debtor or involving any business in which the debtor participated. The debtor should be told to bring all pleadings and other litigation papers to the client interview. The documents will enable counsel to identify the names and addresses of claim holders, the nature of the claims against the debtor and the attorneys to contact for more information.


Bankruptcy counsel assumes some responsibility for the debtor’s other legal problems even if the debtor has other lawyers involved. Bankruptcy counsel should immediately write each attorney representing the debtor to determine the status of pending litigation and to inform the attorney of the Chapter 13 case. Don’t assume that debtors will tell their other lawyers about the bankruptcy case. This caution is highlighted by the frequency with which judicial estoppel has been applied to bar debtors from pursuing nonbankruptcy litigation that was not disclosed in the Chapter 13 schedules.1


Especially important are domestic relations and criminal matters involving the debtor. The debtor may not voluntarily admit that criminal charges are pending or that a domestic relations court is considering the debtor’s obligations to a former spouse. Counsel must probe for information in these sensitive areas.


Counsel may need signed release-of-information forms to facilitate consultation with the debtor’s other lawyers.