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BBB Accredited Business sinceAdditional Locations
Phone: (503) 236-9211 Fax: (503) 236-0209 View Additional Phone Numbers 8800 SE Sunnyside Rd STE 207N, Clackamas, OR 97015
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This company offers attorney services, focusing on consumer bankruptcies.
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A BBB Accredited Business since
BBB has determined that M Caroline Cantrell & Associates PC meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.
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Factors that affect the rating for M Caroline Cantrell & Associates PC include:
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- Response to 1 complaint(s) filed against business
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|Total Closed Complaints||1|
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Business ManagementMs. M Caroline Cantrell, President Ms. Wendi Tibbetts, Office Manager
Attorneys & Lawyers - Bankruptcy Attorneys & Lawyers Offices of Lawyers (NAICS: 541110)
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Additional Phone Numbers
- (360) 694-9025(Phone)
- (503) 266-0383(Phone)
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Read Complaint Details
Complaint: My complaint is with this Attorneys charges to represent me in my Chapter 13 case. After providing $2000,00 up front, and in excess of $6,600 in legal fess submitted to the Trustee for payment for a simple Chapter 13, and now an additional $700 in fees for a request of Payoff to payoff the Chapter 13 which I was told by the Attorneys staff I had to get from them. Now I am NOT able to payoff the case as planned which also prevents me from purchasing a home I have been approved for because of the additional attorney fees being tacked on! These fees are unreasonable, unethical, and unjustifiable. I have been making my payments on time and diligently for 5-years to complete this plan and now that I was prepared to pay off the balance so that I can move on and get a fresh start, I feel I am being taken advantage of and the Attorney fees are outrageous. I would never recommend this Attorney to anyone. How can you possibly justify over $8,000 in fees for a simple Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case!
Desired Settlement: An explanation of how they can legally and ethically charge over $8000 in legal fees for a simple Chapter 13, a response from the Trustee that these fees are absorbent and unreasonable, and the ability to pay this case off without any further attached fees.
I agree, $8,000 is a lot of money for a "simple Chapter 13 case". Unfortunately, this was never a simple Chapter 13 case.
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Pursuant to our conversation, this response to *** ********* rebuttal is being sent directly to you via email. As discussed, I filed a response prior to the deadline given in your notice of March 11, 2015; however, it was either lost in or deleted by the system.
Attached is a copy of the Client Intake Form Mr. ******* completed and brought to our initial meeting on 9/16/2009 and a copy of the Bankruptcy Court Docket listing all documents filed during the course of his case. Also attached are the three Applications for Supplemental Fees that were filed by our office.
The Intake Form is submitted to show that Mr. ******* was actively self-employed when he first came to our office in September 2009. See comments on Page 3 under PLEASE LIST BELOW ANY SPECIAL CONCERNS OR ISSUES YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS. There he states: “My business is still active….I currently have 4-properties under contract… I do not want to lose my vehicle and want to continue to invest in real estate….Would like to keep my house…that is now vacant…and have second mortgage wiped out…move into now, and resell in a year or so….”
At the time of the initial consultation, Mr. ******* was residing in an apartment in Salem (Page 1) and the house he wanted to move into, strip the second mortgage on and resell, had been transferred to a Trust (Page 5). In addition, he was behind on the house payments (Page 5) and wanted to see if he could get the loan modified. We discussed his current financial condition and his bankruptcy options: Chapter 13 to protect the equity in his vehicle, strip the second mortgage, better protect his business and pay his income taxes; Chapter 7 if he wanted to walk from the property, risk liquidation of the vehicle and possibly the business and work directly with the taxing authorities to pay the taxes. We also discussed what needed to be done prior to filing his case – i.e. move back into the house, negotiate with lender on loan modification, find sources of income to fund a feasible Chapter 13 plan. We worked with Mr. ******* as needed between September 16, 2009 and June 18, 2010, the date of filing. Attorney fees for these services were included in the fees estimate through confirmation, $4, 500.00, as discussed below.
The Court Docket is attached simply to show Mr. ******* that his case really was more complex than he seems to remember. As is evidenced, in addition to preparing and filing the petition, plan, schedules, other routine documents and attending several hearings, we prepared and filed four amended chapter 13 plans, an adversary proceeding, and the documents necessary to sell the property. We also responded to a motion for relief from stay, a motion to dismiss for missed plan payments and objected to the proof of claim of the mortgage holder after the property was sold. Plus we prepared and filed various other documents as needed and required by the Bankruptcy Code and Federal and Local Bankruptcy Rules.
The docket also reflects the Applications for Supplemental Fees that were filed with the Court, attached. As previously stated, all fees must be approved by the court before they are allowed to be paid by the trustee from plan payments and are subject to review and objection by the trustee, debtor, and all creditors. There were no objections filed by any party to the requests for supplemental fees in this case. Again, Mr. ******* retained our office with $2,000.00 on September 17, 2009. From the retainer, we paid the court filing fee of $274.00 and applied the difference, $1,726.00, to the estimated fee through confirmation, $4,500.00. The actual charges through confirmation were $5,026.00 - $526.00 more than projected. That amount is include in the 10/4/2011 application. Applications for Supplemental Fees were filed as follows:
- 10/4/2011 in the amount of $2,969.98 for the additional $526.00 mentioned above and services rendered from confirmation, 9/1/2010 through 9/19/2011;
- 9/27/2012 in the amount of $936.64 for services rendered between 10/4/2011 and 9/21/2012; and,
- 2/17/2015 in the amount of $762.50 for services rendered between 9/27/2012 and 2/15/2015.
To avoid losing the attorney/client privilege, the itemizations attached to the applications do not include the context of our conversations or interactions with Mr. *******; however, it does reflect the extent of the contact between attorney/client, trustee and creditors as well as the work done thereafter. As is apparent, most of the attorney fees in this case were incurred between 9/16/2009 and 9/11/2011, a period of time when *** ********* life was in flex. During that time, Mr. ******* did struggle financially. According to my notes, he was part time employed; had roommates and a partner that were not contributing to the household as he originally hoped, and he was have a very difficult time deciding how he wanted to proceed. Between 12/06/2010 and 6/20/2011, I have documented 7 conversations between myself and Mr. ******* in which we discussed changes or potential changes in his finances and his options to continue with the Chapter 13, convert to a Chapter 7 or dismiss the case and refile later (12/6/2010; 12/20/2010; 1/17/2011; 2/14/2011; 2/25/2011; 6/06/2011; 6/20/2011). All of those entries are reflected on the itemization attached to the Application for Supplemental Fees. In addition, the line item for 8/23/2011 reflects a conversation **** *****, another bankruptcy attorney, had with Mr. ******* and a conversation between Mr. ******* and me regarding his options.
Once *** ********* life stabilized, the attorney fees were minimal. As reflected on the Court Docket, between 10/4/2011 and 9/21/2012 we prepared and filed the notice and order required to sell his house and an amended Plan to reduce his plan payment from $600.00 to $234.00. Mr. ******* states I should have known he could not afford to pay $600.00. According to my notes, Mr. ******* hoped to complete the Plan as quickly as possible. The Bankruptcy Code requires a minimum of 36 payments. A 36 month Plan in his case required a $600.00 month payment. When it became obvious that he was unable to make the higher payment, he requested the Plan be amended and the payment reduced. Prior to his request, we had several conversations about his ability to reduce the payment. He was reluctant to do so as it would extend the Plan.
The Application for Fees dated 2/17/2015 is a minimal amount incurred over the last couple years. The bulk of those fees are, again, incurred in response to conversations with Mr. *******.
Mr. ******* raised one other issue in his rebuttal that I would like to address. That is the issue of his lender still showing up on the Trustees payment of creditors after it was sold. I have no control over how the trustee keeps his records; however, I suspect the trustee is prohibited from removing creditors from his records. He has to account for every penny he receives and disburse during the life of the case. So, naturally, the lender will be reflected in the trustee’s records even when the lender is no longer being paid. The trustee stopped making payments to the lender when relief from stay was granted. That was further made a part of the record when we filed an objection to the lender’s proof of claim.
Mr. ******* may not have fully understood how a Chapter 13 works; however, it is not because he was not supplied information. As is evidenced, we spent a great deal of time responding to him through numerous conversations and correspondence. Plus he received copies of all documents, his Plans, the Order Confirming Plan, talked with the trustee at the Meeting of Creditors and received correspondence from the Court and trustee. All of which lay out the expectations of a debtor in Chapter 13. He also discussed his options/case with another attorney. He also alleges he did not realize he had, or did not understand he had, other options. Again, those were explained many times to him. I think perhaps he was so caught up – or perhaps fighting so hard to overcome – other issues in his life that he was oblivious to it all. However, that does not mean or even excuse his allegations that we wronged him. There was certainly nothing unethical about our handling of his case, nor is there anything unethical about our request to be paid for services rendered.
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