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Chicago Politician Files for Bankruptcy After Discovering Husband's Health Problems

November 18, 2010

An article about an Illinois bankruptcy caught the attention of our Moreno Valley personal bankruptcy attorneys. According to a Nov. 12 article from the Chicago Sun-Times, Cook County commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman filed for bankruptcy in early November, just after winning re-election to the commission, which administers the Illinois county that includes Chicago. Gorman told the newspaper that the timing of her filing had nothing to do with the election. Rather, she said, she filed after learning that her husband needed had serious heart problems requiring surgery. With her husband already in bankruptcy, she said, she would likely be stuck with her husband's debt in the event of his death. That would wipe out their family of five financially, she said, making it important to file for bankruptcy before he went into surgery.

The Gormans formerly owned two car dealerships together, but the dealerships have folded and the family has hit financial problems. DaimlerChrysler's financial services arm successfully sued them for $4.2 million over a financing issue, and has also accused them of loaning the business's money to Elizabeth Gorman's campaign instead of paying the judgment. Their home is in foreclosure with two different banks that say they are owed $4 million. One of the banks made a business loan with the home as collateral. Elizabeth Gorman makes $85,000 a year as a Cook County commissioner, but her bankruptcy filing says this is inadequate to pay the $13,000 a month her family has in household expenses. In all, the filing says, she has assets of $1.15 million, but debts of $13.5 million.

As Yucaipa individual bankruptcy lawyers, we'd like to discuss the strategy of filing for bankruptcy in advance of risky medical procedures. The article said the Gormans owned their dealerships together, and presumably they also bought their home together. That means either spouse would owe those debts even if the other one died. Gerald Gorman was apparently trying to discharge the debts without involving his wife's credit by filing for bankruptcy on his own. This bankruptcy would protect any joint property like their home -- but it would also be canceled if he were to suffer an unexpected death while the bankruptcy was pending. Then, Elizabeth Gorman would inherit the debts -- and if her filing is accurate, she doesn't have the resources to pay them. That's why it was smart of her to file for bankruptcy, even though it probably wasn't much fun.

At Howard Law PC, we advise individuals and married couples on how to deal with severe debt while minimizing the negative effects on their families, savings, work and futures. Most bankruptcy filers aren't dealing with a multi-million-dollar judgment from a major automaker, but many, many small business owners are being forced to consider bankruptcy as the recession slows their business. Homeowners facing foreclosure proceedings are also increasingly considering bankruptcy as a way to protect their homes. Our Fountain Valley consumer bankruptcy attorneys help clients evaluate whether bankruptcy is the best way to address their financial problems, taking into account each client's individual situation, prospects and needs. When it is, we help clients through the difficult but rewarding process of shedding their debts and making a new start.

If you feel so overwhelmed by your debt that you can't envision ever paying it off, you should call Howard Law to see how we can help. To learn more about our experience or set up a free consultation, call us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 or send us an email today.