The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York (in Rochester) has filed an action against Upright Law in the case of In Re: Joyce Ellen Bishop, Case Number 16-20593, Adversary # 17-2007.
The Western District of New York is in the western part of upper New York and includes the city of Buffalo.
Note there has been no ruling on the case yet, only this Complaint and Upright’s response – no ruling has been made for or against Upright yet! I will keep you posted as any opinions and rulings are made.
This will be a multi-part blog, so use this hub to navigate through the Complaint and other court documents.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affiliate with Upright Law – I co-represent their (our) clients in the northern counties of the Eastern Division of the Southern District of Illinois; I am paying particular attention to this case.
A ruling against Upright Law in the WDNY will likely not affect their reputation in the SDIL, but I will have to be particularly careful in representing their/our clients properly so that these issues do not take place!
Note that Upright has been brought before a District Court in Ohio regarding their fees. But here we are not talking about questioning what they charge – but barring them from practicing law in the WDNY Bankruptcy Court!
The first section of the Complaint states what the United States Trustee hopes to accomplish, the Summary Statement shows us the facts that the Trustee will try to prove, and the Jurisdiction and Venue section tells the Bankruptcy Court that they are given the right and ability to hear this Complaint under the law (as opposed to a county circuit court or a tax court).
William K. Harrington, United States Trustee for Region Two (the “United States Trustee”), by counsel, files this complaint to:
(i) cancel the debtor’s retainer agreement with Upright Law, LLC, and/or Law Solutions Chicago, LLC, and/or Allen Chern Law, and Jason Racki;
(ii) enjoin the debt relief agency defendants from committing future violations of 11 U.S.C. § 526;
(iii) impose appropriate civil penalties against the debt relief agency defendants;
(iv) prohibit Jason Racki, Upright Law, LLC, Law Solutions Chicago, LLC, Allen Chern Law, and Allen Chern, from practicing before this court whether directly or indirectly;
(v) to order damages and/or sanctions as may be warranted and
(vi) take such other action as the Court deems necessary to deter such misconduct and similar schemes in the future.
- SUMMARY STATEMENT
This case exposes serious abuses of the bankruptcy process by a multijurisdictional internet law firm doing business as Upright Law. Ms. Bishop became a victim of Upright’s abusive practices when it failed to explain various documents executed by Ms. Bishop, including documents authorizing telemarketer calls as well as a power of attorney on Ms. Bishop’s behalf; when it failed to fully explain what services were included in the quoted fee and what services were add-on fees; and again when it failed to advise Ms. Bishop of New York law regarding stale-debt and mortgage deficiencies and the fact that this law would most like render Ms. Bishop’s bankruptcy filing unnecessary.
Upright operates through a series of “partnership agreements” with local “partner” attorneys who, upon information and belief, are responsible for almost everything with regard to the Petition, Schedules, and SOFA except for the collection of fees and disclosure of those fees, which is completed by Upright. Upright purports to help a debtor self-select a chapter in which to file, quote the prospective debtor a fee, and gather basic information such as bank accounts, household size, income, and amount of debt. Depending on the prospective debtor’s financial situation, the payment of Upright’s total fees can take several months. Only after all fees are paid is the debtor’s file “handed off” to the “local partner” attorney, at which point the attorney prepares the majority of the documents filed with the Court. It appears that little or no thought is given to the legal ramifications in the interim.
In this case, the local partner attorney, Mr. Racki, and Upright failed to perform the basic due diligence required by an attorney of record. As a result, Ms. Bishop’s schedules and other filed documents contained numerous material errors and omissions, including, but not limited to, the omission of a vehicle titled in Ms. Bishop’s name, the wrong household size on the means test form, inaccurate amounts of monthly income received from work and social security throughout the filed documents; inaccurate disclosure of the total fees paid by Ms. Bishop, what services were excluded and when those fees were paid and who received them. As counsel for the debtor, Mr. Racki and Upright each bear responsibility for filing accurate and complete documents. Most critical, however, is that due to Upright’s delay in referring Ms. Bishop to competent New York licensed counsel to discuss her scheduled foreclosure debt and whether bankruptcy relief was necessary in light of the age of her debt and New York State Law regarding debt resulting from a foreclosure, it is unclear if Ms. Bishop received adequate legal advice before filing.
- JURISDICTION AND VENUE
1) This adversary proceeding relates to the chapter 7 case of Joyce Ellen Bishop, case number 16-20593 (the “Bishop bankruptcy case”), pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York, Rochester Division.
2) The Court has jurisdiction over this adversary proceeding pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 157 and 1334.
3) This complaint is brought pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §§ 105(a), 307, 329 and 526 – 528; Fed. R. Bankr. P. 2016 and 2017; and the court’s inherent power.
4) Venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1408 and 1409.
5) This is a core proceeding pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 157(b).
6) The United States Trustee has standing to file this motion under 11 U.S.C. § 307 and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 2017.
Filed by Kathleen Dunivin Schmit of the US Trustee’s office (WILLIAM K. HARRINGTON )
United States Trustee for Region Two) on April 28, 2017.
Check my blog’s search engine for more on this Complaint and Upright’s response. Just type “Upright Law” in my search engine for the Upright case law.
About the blogger:
Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.
He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!
Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Centralia, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!
You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com
 The United States Trustee reserves his right to supplement and or amend this pleading, seeking further relief should the discovery of new evidence or facts warrant.