Attorney Error Brings DismissalIn the bankruptcy case of Crawford, Tanner S. and Tillie M.; In re, 20, debtors suffered a dismissal of their bankruptcy case because their attorney miscalculated when they needed to obtain credit counseling.

The details of the bankruptcy case:

The debtors first met with a bankruptcy attorney in August 2007. They filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 13, 2009. Unfortunately, they obtained their credit counseling 181 days prior to the filing. The court found that the decision to file for bankruptcy was not easy for the debtors and the failure to obtain credit counseling within 180 days of the filing was not their fault, but was caused by their counsel’s calculation of the period as being six months instead of 180 days. The debtors took a new credit counseling course four days after filing, but that didn’t help them. Neither did their attorney’s offer to accept a fine for his error. Ironically, the only thing that might have helped the debtors is if they had intended to manipulate the system. However, because the filing was the result of a good-faith mistake, the court said it had no choice but to dismiss the case.

This is an unfortunate situation for the debtors in this bankruptcy case.  While the attorney’s error may have been in “good-faith,” it still ended badly for the debtors who really needed bankruptcy relief.  Debtors considering bankruptcy must make sure that they are working with attorneys who have experience successfully filing bankruptcy because less experienced attorneys may be more vulnerable to making “honest” mistakes that nevertheless end up in their bankruptcy case being dismissed.