This Romanian-native gentleman came to our office through one of our referral attorneys. He was, for the most part, the quintessential American success story. He came to the U.S. to make a better life for himself, and eventually worked his way in to owning a taxi medallion, back when such things were still incredibly valuable (about 1 million dollars).
Later on, he used the equity he had on his taxi medallion and took out a large loan to further his business portfolio by opening a business around 2008. Not comfortable with burdening the responsibility himself, he took on a partner to manage the business. He even managed to own a small piece of real estate in Pennsylvania and even in his home country of Romania. Everything seemed to be heading the right direction for him, but as fate would have it, all good things must come to an end.
Restaurants are notoriously tough to operate succeed, and this one failed. Around one thousand restaurants opens each year in New York City. Eight hundred of them will go out of business within the next five years. That is a 80% failure rate. As the restaurant continued to hemorrhage money, our client had no choice but to take on more loans against his medallion just to keep the business going. It also did not help that his partner was mismanaging the business and its funds, which further deteriorated the well being of the restaurant. When things were getting more and more desperate for the both of them, the partner actually sued our client, blaming the situation on him instead. With the restaurant facing closure, unable to make the loan payments, the mortgage payments, his rent and personal living expenses, and the lawsuit from someone he thought he could trust, the situation was looking desperate.
By the time our client filed bankruptcy, his taxi medallion was not even worth $300,000 and he had approximately over 1 million dollars in debt. (Medallions have fallen even more in value since – about $120,000 only). He filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to get a fresh start in life, which he received when we successfully got him his bankruptcy discharge. The case was no “walk-in-the-park” by any means. The trustee took particular interest in the case due to the high valued assets and the sheer amount of debt that was involved. Even the ex-partner threatened to contest the bankruptcy. A normal average bankruptcy would close in about 2-3 months. His case took 8 months. But through it all, we were successful in getting our client the discharge he needed.
He was no longer personally liable for the loan balance on his taxi medallion loan, the business related debts, and even the lawsuit filed by his now ex-partner. It is true that he had to give up on some things. His taxi medallion was taken by the loan company, and his restaurant was forced to close and the landlord took possession of the property and everything inside the building. Not all “doom and gloom”, however, as we were able to save some of his assets as well. We were able to save his property in Pennsylvania, his Romanian newspaper publishing, and his property in Romania as well.
After the case was finished, he stated that he was more than happy that he no longer had to worry about the medallion loan and the messy business with the restaurant, and was looking forward to starting fresh. He was not discouraged, because here was an individual who had come to the U.S. with almost nothing, and managed to make himself successful through perseverance and hard work. Time to reset and restart. Congratulations!
P.S. As a side note, this client comes to visit our office every once in a while. Sometimes he comes with potential clients for us, other times he just stops by to say hello and thank you, often bringing with him a bottle of liquor as a gift.