In most instances of personal bankruptcy, an individual evaluates the advantages and drawbacks of using either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. These two forms of bankruptcy actually account for more than 99 percent of all individual bankruptcies filed in the United States each year.
Many boomers will find it difficult to believe that the venerable game of golf is falling into disfavor in North America, including in Pennsylvania and states with similar demographics. Apparently, millennials have not become interested in the game due to its slowness and time-consuming characteristics. The rise and fall of Tiger Woods also seems to have brought a general disinterest in the sport after Wood's rather ignominious fall from grace and his inability to continue to attract hordes of new fans and players as he once did. Those market factors have led to business failures and bankruptcy filings.
It may not be generally known that bankruptcy relief can be extended to public-service entities such as volunteer fire companies. Those kinds of nonprofit organizations can, however, obtain relief from creditors and an opportunity to reorganize in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A recent example is the filing by a Pennsylvania volunteer fire company called the Conneaut Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
Corporations that publish tabloids and disseminate yellow journalism are vulnerable to incurring one or more massive judgments that may threaten their financial viability. This can happen to a Pennsylvania business or to one in another state, and if the judgment is big enough, bankruptcy protection may be needed. In recent years, yellow journalism has appeared online and the risk of an extreme judgment being entered is a factor for those companies. One such company is Gawker, an online news feed that suffered a $140 million judgment in a defamation lawsuit filed by the professional wrestler, Hulk Hogan.
In Pennsylvania and elsewhere, bankruptcy is an option that consumers and businesses with overwhelming debt may find to be the key to their financial recovery. It is not a minimal remedy nor even an attempt to regulate an overactive or neglected budget. Bankruptcy is for businesses and consumers who have encountered severe financial setbacks and are now struggling to find a solution to a crisis situation.
In many Chapter 11 filings in Pennsylvania or other jurisdictions, the main focus of the company will be to get over the preliminary hurdle of being able to continue operations as the bankruptcy goes forward. In a recent filing by Vertellus Specialties, Inc., the company received the approval of the Bankruptcy Court to maintain its normal operations. The company has agreed with its lenders to sell substantially all of its domestic and foreign assets.
Ironically, the low price of oil has hurt not only oil drillers and producers but has affected to some extent the renewable energy industry nationwide, including in Pennsylvania. The most glaring example of that influence can be seen in the impending bankruptcy of solar energy leader SunEdison Company. The company had a market value of nearly $10 billion last summer but has suffered a dramatic turnabout due to a variety of factors.
The steep slide in oil prices has affected the shale oil industry in the United States. Several of the high-profile companies in the industry may consider bankruptcy reorganization or even liquidation. The industry has a fair share of companies operating in the Pennsylvania shale fields.
Non-profit charitable organizations are also able to take advantage of the workout provisions of the federal bankruptcy law. For example, a children's museum in Pennsylvania, called the Please Touch Museum, raised new donations and compromised several debts so that it is now ready to emerge from bankruptcy. The museum had incurred a $60 million debt that it could not pay when it moved from Center City Philadelphia to Fairmont Park in 2008. It filed a Chapter 11 in September and recently received the approval of the bankruptcy judge to compromise the bulk of its debt for a payment of $11.25 million.
Companies in Pennsylvania who want to protect their businesses from looming losses sometimes opt for the reorganization process of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Sports Authority -- a chain of retailers with over 460 stores across the country -- has recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This followed the company's disclosure last month that it had failed to pay a $20 million debt.