, Newburyport, MA

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October 8, 2013

Bankruptcy filing stymies effort to take home


In January, after the filing and resolutions of a number of motions and counter-motions over the years, Judge Piper ruled on the town’s motion for summary judgment, resolving all claims in favor of the town. He also directed the town to file a motion so the court could determine the amount the Tomasellis would need to pay to redeem the property, preventing the town from taking it for tax title.

The sisters filed a motion to reconsider, as well as an opposition and motion to strike and request for another hearing, but Piper denied them all. However, the judge did lower the legal fees the Tomasellis must pay the town. He cut $6,700 from the $44,000 the town requested in legal fees.

After analyzing the figures town officials presented in February, on Aug. 2 Piper allowed the town’s motion for summary judgment, approving the amount of $250,889 in back taxes, sewer and interest charges and legal fees. The court ordered the Tomasellis to pay up by Sept. 30.

“ ... if they do not timely redeem by making that payment by that date, judgment will enter upon the request of the town, forever barring the defendants’ rights of redemption,” Piper wrote.

All of that appears moot at this point, due to the bankruptcy filing, which offers at least temporary relief to debtors through its automatic stay provision. The stay immediately stops creditors from collecting on debts owed, garnishing wages, etc., until a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee determines how to proceed after analyzing the financial situation and meeting with creditors and the debtor.

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, that can include liquidation of debtors assets, although certain assets can be exempted.

From filing to conclusion, the bankruptcy process can take months to resolve.

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