7th Circuit Rules Chicago Can Not Ignore the Automatic Stay and Hold Vehicles Until Tickets are Paid

Posted by NCBRC - June 20, 2019

On June 19, 2019 the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decisions of the lower bankruptcy courts.

In four chapter 13 bankruptcies, the City of Chicago impounded vehicles owned by the Debtors for failure to pay multiple traffic fines. After the Debtors filed chapter 13, the City refused to return the vehicles claiming they needed to maintain possession to continue their perfection on them and wouldn’t return the vehicles until the fines were paid.

The bankruptcy courts held that the City violated the automatic stay by exercising control over the vehicles, that no exceptions applied, and ordered the return of the vehicles and sanctions. The City appealed and the 7th Circuit consolidated the appeals in this case.

The Debtors were represented in part by NACBA members John Wonais of the Semrad Law Firm, and Eugene Wedoff. NACBA member Tara Twomey supported the Debtors by filing an amici curiae brief for NACBA and the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center. NACBA member David Yen filed an amicus curiae brief for the Legal Assistance Foundation.

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