Elizabeth R. Brusa

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Elizabeth Brusa is an associate in the Banking and Financial Services Practice Group focusing on small dollar lending, bankruptcy, and privacy, security and innovation. She is a Certified Information Privacy Professional for the U.S. Private-Sector (CIPP/US). Elizabeth counsels financial services clients on matters related to bankruptcy proceedings, bankruptcy fraud and abuse, and Chapter 11 filings. View articles by Elizabeth.

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Florida Homestead Exemption Applies Only to U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents

A bankruptcy judge in the Middle District of Florida recently sustained a Chapter 7 trustee’s objection to a non-Florida resident debtor’s attempted claim of the Florida homestead exemption. Although the debtor had lived in her Florida home for more than 20 years, she was not a United States citizen or a permanent resident with a so-called … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: COVID-19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act Extends Various CARES Act Amendments to the Bankruptcy Code

Last March, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) made several changes to the Bankruptcy Code, including those changes discussed in more detail here. As it became clear that we would be dealing with COVID-19 for much longer than previously anticipated, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: Secured vs. Unsecured Claims

Bankruptcy is primarily about “claims.” The debtor seeks to discharge personal liability on claims, while creditors seek payment on their claims. In basic terms, a bankruptcy “claim” is a right to payment. The claim does not need to be fixed, settled, undisputed, or due at the time the debtor files his bankruptcy petition. The official … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: How to File a Proof of Claim 101

You just heard that a customer has filed for bankruptcy — what do you do now? One of the first steps is to determine whether you should file a proof of claim. How will I be alerted about the bankruptcy? When a bankruptcy case is filed, the debtor is required to list all of his … Continue Reading

5 Key Takeaways from Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics, Part 1

We hope that you’re enjoying Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics. Are there topics you’d like to read more about? Please email Elizabeth or Alex; we’re always interested to hear what content you’d like to see in future months. Below are five key takeaways from our first month of Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: 1. The early bird gets the … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: 5 Significant (if Temporary) Amendments to the Bankruptcy Code Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic

As we cross the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, we reflect on the multiple amendments to the Bankruptcy Code that have been implemented to help curb the effects of various economic shutdowns and financial hardships caused by the coronavirus. These Bankruptcy Code amendments are only temporary, but Congress is considering extending them to facilitate … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: Chapter 13 Bankruptcy — Consumer Bankruptcy with a Payment Plan

Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides relief only to individuals with regular income. This Chapter is most frequently used by debtors who have sufficient disposable monthly income to make some payments over time to their creditors. Chapter 13 debtors frequently have enough equity in their residence that, if they were to file for Chapter 7, the residence … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: Chapter 11 Bankruptcy — Reorganization

Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases are most frequently filed by businesses. However, certain high-earning individuals whose debts are above the statutory debt limits to qualify for Chapter 13 can also file for Chapter 11 relief. In Chapter 11 cases, the debtor retains control of its operations as a debtor in possession (DIP) and has the benefits … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy — Liquidation

Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are straight liquidations sought by debtors who wish to have most or all of their debts discharged. In Chapter 7 cases, the Chapter 7 trustee obtains control over the debtor’s assets and evaluates whether any equity exists that would offset the costs of selling those assets. If the bankruptcy estate will … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: The 6 Key “Players” in Bankruptcy Cases

Bankruptcy cases differ from typical lawsuits in a variety of ways, including the parties involved. Whereas standard lawsuits generally involve a plaintiff and a defendant, bankruptcy cases have a different cast of “players,” including the debtor or debtor in possession, creditors, the bankruptcy trustee (i.e., Chapter 7 trustee, Chapter 13 trustee, etc.), committees, and the … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: A Multimedia Series

Bankruptcy. The arrival of that notice stating a customer has filed for bankruptcy can evoke less-than-ideal responses: forwarding the notice to someone else who might know what to do with it (resulting in the notice ending up in a forever loop of being forwarded along); immediately writing off the account and cutting your losses; or, … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds Mere Retention of Bankruptcy Debtor’s Property Is Not a Violation of the Automatic Stay but More Questions Remain

For the past few years, the federal circuit courts have struggled with the issue of whether a creditor retaining possession of bankruptcy estate property violates the automatic stay. For example, is a creditor required to automatically turn over a vehicle as soon as the bankruptcy petition is filed, or can the creditor retain possession of … Continue Reading

Bankruptcy Court Upholds Foreclosure Sale That Occurred Between Bankruptcy Case Dismissal and Subsequent Reinstatement

Frequently, borrowers file for bankruptcy at the 11th hour to halt foreclosure sales. Once a petition for bankruptcy relief has been filed, secured creditors must cease their collection efforts to avoid violating the automatic stay. However, the automatic stay terminates upon a debtor’s dismissal and closure of the bankruptcy case. A Pennsylvania bankruptcy court recently … Continue Reading

Four Significant Changes to Consumer Bankruptcy Included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA 2021). Similar to the March 2020 CARES Act, several temporary changes to the Bankruptcy Code are included in Title X of the CAA 2021. Below, we examine four of the CAA 2021’s most significant changes to consumer bankruptcy laws. These changes are temporary … Continue Reading

Top 10 Changes to Consumer Bankruptcy Proposed in the Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2020

On December 9, 2020, Congressional Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), proposed sweeping legislation that would overhaul consumer bankruptcy law. The proposed changes generally make it easier for consumers to access the bankruptcy system and discharge their debts. Below is a discussion of 10 critical changes proposed in the Consumer Bankruptcy Reform … Continue Reading

Certain “Nunc Pro Tunc” Relief May Still be Available in Bankruptcy

Translating to “now for then,” nunc pro tunc orders grant backdated relief. Such orders are common in bankruptcy cases. For instance, bankruptcy courts often enter orders retroactively approving retention of professionals, and in certain cases even granting retroactive relief from the automatic stay. In February 2020, the Supreme Court held in Roman Catholic Archdiocese of … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Holds Bankruptcy Trustee May Relinquish Derivative “Asset Plundering” Causes of Action for Creditors to Pursue

Recently, in Artesanias Hacienda Real S.A. De C.V. v. North Mill Capital, LLC; Leisawitz Heller, the Third Circuit held that creditors can pursue claims of the bankruptcy estate that have been abandoned by the trustee. Although the plaintiff, Artesanias, had Article III standing to pursue certain claims, because these claims were derivative of harm to … Continue Reading

Individuals Can Restructure Personal Guaranties of Defunct Business’s Debt in New Bankruptcy Subchapter V

Earlier this year, Chapter 11’s new Subchapter V became a part of the Bankruptcy Code when the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA) became effective. Very shortly thereafter, the CARES Act expanded the debt limits for a business or individual to qualify as a debtor under the SBRA. In the wake of these new … Continue Reading

Alabama Bankruptcy Court Substantially Reduces Award of Attorney’s Fees

In practice, it is not uncommon for bankruptcy debtors to file suit against creditors or debt collectors for stay and discharge injunction violations. Often, they will do so before making any meaningful attempt to communicate with the creditor or debt collector to request that they stop their improper collection efforts. The Bankruptcy Court for the … Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Holds Plaintiffs Must Have Incurred Concrete Injury for Article III Standing to Sue under FDCPA

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors are prohibited from using “false, deceptive, or misleading representation[s]” in connection with collecting debts. If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, the debt collector may be liable in the amount of the actual damages incurred by a debtor resulting from the FDCPA violation. Further, additional … Continue Reading

Pre-Bankruptcy Automatic Stay Waivers – More Valuable Than Ever These Days?

In the very unusual period in which we find ourselves today, it seems to be common wisdom that an avalanche of commercial loan defaults is coming. As such, it is a good time to take a fresh look at the terms and provisions used in commercial workout documents, whether in a simple agreement that extends … Continue Reading

First Circuit Holds that Parents’ Tuition Payments for Adult Children Are Fraudulent Transfers

Recently, the First Circuit held that a parent’s tuition payments on behalf of an adult child do not benefit the parent’s bankruptcy estate, and a Chapter 7 trustee may therefore claw the payments back as fraudulent transfers. The concept underlying fraudulent transfer law is that, if a person cannot pay his debts in due course, … Continue Reading

The Split Widens: Third Circuit Joins Minority View Regarding Whether Secured Creditor Has Affirmative Obligation to Return Collateral to Debtor Upon Bankruptcy Filing

The circuit courts continue to wrestle over the duties imposed by the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay on creditors concerning turnover of a debtor’s impounded vehicle. Is a creditor required to automatically turn over the vehicle as soon as the bankruptcy petition is filed, or can it retain possession while awaiting an order of the bankruptcy … Continue Reading

CFPB Settles with Freedom Debt Relief

On July 9, 2019, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California entered a stipulated final judgment and order in case number 17-cv-06484, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Freedom Debt Relief, LLC, et al. Under the stipulated judgment, Freedom Debt Relief, LLC (Freedom Debt Relief is not related to Freedom Mortgage Company) is … Continue Reading
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