Advice to Use Credit Cards to Pay For Legal Fees Did Not Violate BAPCPA
Obtained a dismissal, with prejudice, of a legal malpractice claim where the plaintiff alleged the law firm violated the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA). The plaintiff brought a one-count complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against the firm and sought punitive damages of $1,000,000, as well as class certification. In a case of first impression, the District Court Judge held that a bankruptcy attorney is only precluded from accepting credit cards in satisfaction of fees when the attorney's motivation is for an improper purpose. The court noted that it is customary for bankruptcy attorneys to expect compensation for legal services and that the applicable bankruptcy statute contains specific provisions regulating a debtor's transactions with attorneys. Further, it is completely proper for an attorney to accept payment by credit card in Florida under the Rules of Professional Conduct. Accordingly, without more, the mere advice to use credit cards to pay for legal fees did not violate the BAPCPA.