When bankruptcy isn’t enough to eliminate debt

Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone answers the question: “What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?”


Erin Andrews was recently in the news for her successful lawsuit against her stalker and a Nashville hotel where a video of her undressing was secretly recorded through her room’s peep hole. Andrews, the famous sports personality, launched her legal claim in an attempt to hold those responsible for causing her harm financially accountable for their actions. When the judgment was handed down for a whopping $55 million, it was clear she had accomplished what she set out to do.


Hotel Room Charlotte Bankruptcy Law Firm Mecklenburg Chapter 7 LawyerThough the verdict was surprisingly large, the way the jury divided responsibility meant that Andrews would be very unlikely to ever see the lion share of that total. Of the $55 million total, the hotel, the Nashville Marriott, was assigned responsibility for $27 million, while the stalker, Michael Barrett, was told to pay the remaining $28 million. It’s since been revealed that Andrews reached a private settlement with the Marriott, with the hotel agreeing to pay a figure that experts believe is close to the amount awarded by the jury.


The problem for Andrews is that this only leaves her with half the money the jury felt she was entitled to. Barrett owes the other half and, as a man without a job, a home or any assets to speak of, collecting such a sum will prove to be nearly impossible. Though experts agree that Andrews will likely see little if any of that money, Andrews wanted to again make the point that Barrett did something wrong and, as such, shouldn’t be able to easily escape responsibility for the debt.


To do this, Andrews and her lawyers filed documents intervening in Barrett’s bankruptcy case, seeking to prevent the court from agreeing to wipe away all of Barrett’s debts. Barrett had filed for bankruptcy back in 2012, an attempt to secure Chapter 7 protection. Andrews wanted to be sure that Barrett remained responsible for the millions he owed her and asked the bankruptcy judge to leave the debt untouched. Andrews argued that Barrett’s conduct was malicious and given this, the debt should not be cleared.


The judge recently ruled on the matter and sided with Andrews, granting her motion to keep the $28 million debt. This means that even once the Chapter 7 is closed and the bankruptcy officially discharged, Barrett will remain financially responsible for all the money owed to Andrews.


This case illustrates a point that some may not be aware of. Some debts can be deemed nondischargeable should a creditor file an objection with the court. Examples include money related to fraud or embezzlement and, just like in this case, debt that is related to injuries caused by willful or malicious conduct. Had Andrews not objected, the court could have easily discharged the debt. Because she chose to file an objection and speak up, Barrett will now be on the hook for the full $28 million.


If you are contemplating bankruptcy in the Charlotte area, please call the skilled lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC find additional resources here. As professionals who are experienced at handling all kinds of bankruptcy matters, our attorneys will provide you with legally sound advice for your particular situation.


About the Author

Kyle Frost Bankruptcy Lawyer Student loan attorneyKyle Frost joined Arnold & Smith, PLLC in 2013 where he focuses his practice on all aspects of civil litigation and bankruptcy, including: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13, home loan modifications and landlord-tenant issues.

Born and raised in upstate New York, Mr. Frost attended the University at Albany on a Presidential Scholarship, graduating magna cum laude with a double major in Political Science and Sociology.  He went on to attended Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

Following college, Mr. Frost spent over a year teaching English in South Korea. He worked in a private school in Seoul developing curriculum, English programs, and educating both children and adults that were interested in learning a new language.

In his spare time, Mr. Frost enjoys homebrewing, fishing, and travelling.





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