In the case of (In re Panek, No. 03-46692-HJB Bankr. D. Mass. 03/05/09) a bankruptcy court awarded $15,240 in damages to a debtor who was the victim of an automatic stay violation.
Bankruptcy Case Details:
After being notified that the debtor had filed for bankruptcy a creditor continued to automatically withdraw payments of $201 from the debtor’s bank account for three months. Even after receiving a sanctions motion the creditor failed to respond and failed to show up to the hearing. The creditor did settle the automatic stay violation with the debtor for $5,240; but the bankruptcy judge found the creditor’s action to be such an affront to the bankruptcy court process that he ordered the creditor to pay an additional $10,000 to the debtor.
The bankruptcy judge offered this justification for his actions:
“When someone does not seem to be listening, occasionally the best strategy is to speak louder.”
I’m sure that the creditor has heard him loud and clear. This type of case offers reassurance to debtors everywhere that automatic stay violations will not be tolerated by the bankruptcy courts. Many brazen creditors often violate automatic stays in the hopes that the debtor will not understand his/her rights because he/she has failed to work with a professional bankruptcy attorney. But with a seasoned bankruptcy attorney, these types of creditor antics during bankruptcy will not go unpunished.