Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oregon Chapter 13 Cases Under Trustees Long, Lynch & Ridgway, By the Numbers

By Andrew Toth-Fejel, Bankruptcy Litigation Support for Attorneys,

In the Bankruptcy Bulletin of September 2, 2008 entitled Intriguing Oregon & National Chapter 13 Trustee Statistics, I presented some data and observations about the money that flows yearly into Chapter 13 cases (more than $5 billion in FY 2007) and where this money goes. The source for that information, the U. S. Trustee's detailed spreadsheet entitled Chapter 13 Standing Trustee FY07 Audited Annual Reports, also has very informative data about the number of filed and completed or terminated Chapter 13 cases, both nationally and per each trustee. This data includes, for example, the number of active cases at the beginning and end of the fiscal year, how many converted into Chapter 7's, were dismissed, were completed normally and through hardship discharges, and even how many cases paid designated percentages to the unsecured creditors. This information provides a closer look at both the national and local Chapter 13 world than the much publicized numbers available from the Administrative Office of the U. S. Courts. It provides a window into what trustees & attorneys in other parts of Oregon & the nation may be doing differently. If you are in that Chapter 13 world, here's some help looking at those important numbers.


#1: THE NUMBER OF ACTIVE CASES: While nationally the number of active cases at the beginning of this fiscal year compared to its end (9/01/07) decreased by 1.7%, they decreased at a much higher rate for trustees Fred Long and Brian Lynch, by 5.6% and 5.3%, respectively, & increased by 24% for Robert Ridgway.

(NOTE: Because Mr. Ridgway's sample size is so much smaller and his history as a trustee is different than the other two trustees, while I will include his numbers in the rest of these notes, I will usually not refer to them in any analysis, leaving that to those more familiar with the specifics of his pool of cases.)

#2: NEW CASES FILED: The percentage between the number of new cases filed during the year and the number of cases at the start of the year was very similar nationally and for Long & Lynch, 29.3%, 28.4%, & 26.2%, respectively; 60.3% for Ridgway.

#3: REOPENED CASES: For some reason a much larger number of Lynch's reopened cases closed this year although it is not clear how they were closed, e.g. by successful discharge or dismissal. This accounts for a small part of the difference between the national and Long, and especially Lynch, percentages in note #1. It does NOT reflect a higher rate of reopened cases compared to active cases, with both the national and Lynch at 1.1%, with Long & Ridgway at 1.7% and 2.5% respectively.

#4: CONVERSIONS TO CHAPTER 7: The percentage of conversions to Ch. 7 relative to the number of new cases filed for Long are much lower than the national average for conversions pre-confirmation, 1.2% versus 2.9% nationally, and about the same for post-confirmation conversions, 8.5% versus 8.0% nationally. Lynch's pre-confirmation percentage was closer but still under the national average, 2.1%, while his post-confirmation percentage was somewhat lower than the average, at 6.4%. Ridgway's pre- and post-confirmation rate was both at 4.3%.

(NOTE about these calculations: Be aware that these percentages do not precisely track the rate of conversion for cases during their lifetime, rather comparing the total conversions of this fiscal year in relation to the number of cases filed, even though some of these conversions were in cases filed before this fiscal year, and some of the cases filed this fiscal year will undoubtedly be converted after the end of this fiscal year. However, these comparisons within the fiscal year are still informative, as long as it is clear what we are actually comparing. This also applies to my other listed observations. I am aware that with some of these comparisons it might make more sense to change what I've calculated, for example to compare the conversion amounts to the number of cases pending at the start of the the fiscal year instead of to the number of cases filed. Feel free to play with the numbers as makes sense to you, and tell me what you've learned!)

#5: DISMISSED CASES: The percent of cases dismissed pre-confirmation relative to the number of new cases filed are substantially lower than the national average for all 3 Oregon trustees, at 10.5%, 11.8% & 12.9% for Long, Lynch & Ridgway respectively, compared to the national average of 21.3%; for post-confirmation dismissals, again relative to the number of new cases filed, Long is slightly higher than the national average of 30.1%, at 33.1%, compared to Lynch at 23.1% and Ridgway at 11.4%, both much lower than the average. These seem to reflect that in Oregon, undoubtedly through the combined efforts by the bench and bar.

#6: COMPLETED PLANS: Consistent with this, Long & Lynch's percentage of cases closed with completed plans compared to the number of cases filed this fiscal year is substantially higher than the national average of 49.1%, at 80.1% and 78.8%. Ridgway's low percentage at 16.4%, with 19 cases completed compared to 70 filed, presumably reflects the age of his case pool compared to the other two trustees.

#7: HARDSHIP DISCHARGE: Long and Lynch both had a substantially higher number of hardship discharged cases than the national average compared to number of cases filed this year, especially Lynch, with 0.55% and 1.02% respectively, compared to 0.32%. This perhaps reflects Oregon's debtors' attorneys greater familiarity with this procedure, and the trustees' and judges', and perhaps creditors',less resistance to it. Ridgway's percentage was 1.43% but was statistically skewed because he had just one hardship discharge.

#8: CASES LONGER THAN 60 MONTHS: The number of Lynch's cases longer than 60 months as a percentage of the number of cases at the end of the fiscal year (which I assumed is the pertinent point in time) is slightly lower than the national average, 0.67% compared to 0.84% nationally. Long does not have any cases longer than 60 months, presumably reflecting the procedures used in his office and the attitudes of the judges in the Eugene Division. Ridgway also has no 60+ month cases.



Long 3,200 910 53 -17
Lynch 4,862 1,275 54 -67
Ridgway 116 70 3 0
National Totals 790, 030 281,337 84,686 -3,922
National Average Per Trustee 4,115 1,465 44 -20


Long -11 -77 -96 -301
Lynch -27 -82 -151 -294
Ridgway -3 -3 -9 -8
National Totals -8,140 -22,635 -60,003 -84,767
National Average Per Trustee 42 -118 -313 -441


Long -736 -5 3,021 0
Lynch -1,005 -13 4,606 31
Ridgway -19 -1 144 0
National Totals -138,065 -901 776,269 6,531
National Average Per Trustee -719 -5 4,043 34


Underlying data from Chapter 13 Standing Trustee FY07 Audited Annual Reports,
calculations by:
Andrew Toth-Fejel, Bankruptcy Litigation Support for Attorneys,

© 2008 Bankruptcy Litigation Support for Attorneys