The October surge in new bankruptcy filings locally appears to have been just a blip in the long-term trend, as the number of debtors seeking court protection in Western New York again tumbled in November.
The tally of new cases last month fell 19.8 percent to 425 in the 17-county region that includes Buffalo and Rochester, according to new statistics from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York.
That total included 265 in the Buffalo court, down 20.7 percent, and 160 in the Rochester court, down 18.4 percent. Those are the lowest levels of filing for the month of November in over a decade, aside from the artificially low level of November 2005, immediately after major federal bankruptcy law reforms took effect amid a flood of thousands of last-minute filers.
Through the first 11 months of this year, total filings fell 12 percent in the region, to 5,792 from 6,585. That includes a 10.9 percent decline in Buffalo, to 3,816, and a 14.1 percent drop in Rochester, to 1,976.
By filing type, there were 295 cases submitted under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, with 175 in Buffalo and 120 in Rochester. All but 11 – eight in Rochester – were individuals or personal cases.
There were 127 under Chapter 13, including 88 in Buffalo and 39 in Rochester. Only two, both in Rochester, were business cases. And there were two Chapter 11 filings in Buffalo and one in Rochester.
So far this year, there have been 4,178 Chapter 7 filings – including 2,794 in Buffalo and 1,384 in Rochester – and 1,566 Chapter 13 cases – 989 in Buffalo and 577 in Rochester. There’s been 46 Chapter 11 cases, 31 in Buffalo and 15 in Rochester.
Chapter 7 provides for personal or business debtors to liquidate their assets to pay off debts and then write off any remaining unsecured debt to start over. Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 require individuals and businesses, respectively, to reorganize their debts and assets under repayment plans.
Geographically, the Buffalo-area total for November includes 176 cases in Erie County, which as usual is the source of most of the filings. But Niagara County was third in November, with 28, behind Chautauqua County, with 30. Next came Orleans County with nine, Cattaraugus County with eight, Genesee County with six, Allegany County with five, and Wyoming County with three.
The Buffalo court includes secondary locations in Olean and Batavia, while the Rochester court has a satellite site in Watkins Glen.