In re Wojcik

Case Type:
Case Status:
BAP No. CC-16-1172-KiFPa (9th Circuit, Nov 30,2016) Published

Petition preparer was strictly liable for violating 110 by using term "paralegal" in firm name and advertisement.

Procedural context:

In this chapter 7 case of an individual debtor, the UST moved under 110(f), (h), and (l) to compel disgorgement by a bankruptcy petition preparer (BPP) of the BPP's fee of $125, require the BPP to pay debtor damages of $2,000, and fine the BPP $500 for using the term "paralegal" in her business name and in advertisement of her business. The bankruptcy court granted the UST's motion. On appeal, the BAP affirmed.


Section 110(f) prohibits a BPP from using the word "legal" or any similar term--including "paralegal"--in any advertisements. Section 110(f) is a "strict liability" provision. The bankruptcy court must require that a BPP who violates 110 pay the debtor (1) actual damages, (2) the greater of $2,000 or twice the fee paid by the debtor to the BPP, and (3) reasonable attorney fees incurred in in moving for damages. The court may also order the BPP to forfeit fees paid to the BPP, and the court may fine the BPP up to $500 for each failure to comply with 110.




Ralph B. Kirscher and Robert J. Faris, Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Judges, and Jim D. Pappas, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Idaho, sitting by designation

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