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Despite apparent differences, bankruptcy filers share common ground

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All BK actions have one thing in common

All bankruptcies come down to one, inescapable conclusion: the hole that's been dug is too deep. Whether it's a consumer or a business filing for protection of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the law recognizes the need to hit the restart button with either a "straight bankruptcy" or a "reorg bankruptcy." In other words, when the hole is overwhelming and sucking you under, it's time to stop trying to dig your way out by yourself and ask for help.

That being said, no two cases are exactly alike

Beyond that simple, shared conclusion, though, bankruptcies come in all colors and flavors.

Take the case of "The Troubleshooter," a longtime Denver-area radio personality known as a consumer advocate. According to a Sept. 15 piece in The Denver Post, "Tom Martino, who built a small media empire and a personal fortune dispensing consumer advice and bestowing endorsements on businesses, has filed for personal bankruptcy protection, listing his liabilities at $78.6 million. His assets are $1.37 million.

Denver-area celebrity a case in point

"Martino, who calls himself the 'troubleshooter' and a consumer advocate, has appeared regularly on TV and radio in Denver for nearly 30 years. He had a weekday TV show on KDVR Fox-31 until this month and continues to host a radio show on KHOW 630-AM."

Real estate rears its ugly head

Martino also runs Web sites such as troubleshooter.com and referralist.com, plus operating a consulting business. According the Post, none of these drove Martino into financial straits:
But it was his investments in real estate that landed Martino in financial trouble. His Sept. 2 bankruptcy filing, first reported online Wednesday by The Denver Business Journal, lists dozens of creditors, including banks that loaned Martino millions to buy and develop real estate across Colorado.

Martino's failed investments included a townhome development in Grand Lake, a 66-lot residential subdivision in Fort Lupton and a 4-acre commercial property in Parker. He also is losing parking-lot properties in downtown Denver.

Martino, who spoke to The Denver Post on Wednesday, said his troubles started in 2009, when New Frontier Bank of Greeley collapsed. The bank had loaned him about $30 million for his share of the Fort Lupton development and other projects. He also had $1.5 million in a certificate of deposit at the bank.

Additional links to a good read

Here's some links to Post updates on the story; they're pretty interesting, especially the part about claims of fraud and one creditor who has jumped to Martino's defense:

The point to take to heart is that Martino got overextended in real estate. You may think you'd have done things differently if you had a "media empire", but he bet on real estate just as millions of "Regular Joe" homeowners did, not knowing the pitfalls and traps built into the modern "financial engineering" models of Mortgage-Backed Securities.

So the takeaway here is even someone who makes a bundle by being The Troubleshooter can find himself in a situation that makes bankruptcy necessary. Read his posts, listen to him on the radio; ask yourself: "Does he sound like he's too ashamed and embarrassed?" He doesn't to me: he sounds as though he's wound up in a tough corner and has had to make a business decision.

Borders 'wins' right to sell assets to Barnes & Noble

Let's look at another case, this one involving two major booksellers. According to a Sept. 26 article in the Detroit News:
Bankrupt bookseller Borders Group Inc. won court approval Monday for the sale of its intellectual property to larger competitor Barnes & Noble Inc. after a dispute about privacy issues was resolved.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn in Manhattan approved the transaction after reviewing new terms between Ann Arbor-based Borders and Barnes & Noble that will protect the privacy rights of 48 million customers. New York-based Barnes & Noble won the auction to buy most of the trademarks and intellectual property of Borders for $13.9 million. Other trademark assets also were sold, making the sale worth $15.8 million to Borders' creditors.

The terms of the sale are "fair and reasonable and provide appropriate protection to privacy interests of many people who have become part of the Borders customer database," Glenn said.

I could lose my house--what's this got to do with me?

If you've lost your job and can't make house payments, you may be wondering, "What has this got to do with me?" First, let me supply you with another link to the story: "Borders to Sell Intellectual Property to Barnes & Noble."

Now, I'll answer the question--and it's very simple: Even at this multi-million dollar level, there's no shame, there's no backbiting, no stigma. Sure, the Borders' folks would have rather stayed in business. And, probably, consumers would have rather had both chains alive in order to sustain competition.

You have to protect your family, your home--your self

Still, in the end, it's just business.

So when abusive collections people call you up; when relatives, neighbors or otherwise well-meaning friends try to shame you away from bankruptcy: relax in the knowledge that even so-called experts and big business routinely employ the bankruptcy code.

And why not? If you're honest and trying your best, bankruptcy can be the most efficient route to a legal, new start.

Court can provide limited help

The bankruptcy court can provide limited help filing bankruptcy for yourself, such as which forms you need and so on. But no personnel in the court can provide legal advice or opinions, other than to recommend that you retain an attorney.

Consider free case evaluation

If you're interested in learning more about the power of bankruptcy protection, please, browse our site for more information; if you need help filing for bankruptcy protection for yourself, consider signing up for a free case evaluation.

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