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Personal injury judgment a factor in Canseco bankruptcy

Readers in the San Diego-area are probably already familiar with the legal and financial problems of former Major League Baseball star Jose Canseco. His widely publicized troubles have been numerous over the years, but he has started taking some necessary steps that may provide some debt relief.

When he was on top of his game, Canseco was earning a yearly salary of $5.8 million, and between 1986 and 2000, he earned over $45 million in addition to income from several endorsements. However, in late July, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, claiming that he makes just over $3,000 a month now.

One of the factors in his bankruptcy is likely the $785,344 judgment against him for injuries he inflicted in a 2001 bar fight in Miami. It's questionable whether or not this debt can be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy law states that a discharge order will not help with debts that result from "willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity." The catch is that the man to whom Canseco owes the money will have to file a lawsuit within the bankruptcy case, requesting that the debt not be discharged.

The interesting twist to this situation is that in Florida, where the fight in question took place, the court's decision over who was responsible in the barroom brawl does not guarantee that the bankruptcy court will regard the injury was willful and malicious. Debts that occur out of negligence are typically discharged, and it will be up to the judge handling the bankruptcy case to decide which way the debt falls.

Source: The Washington Times, "Baseball's Jose Canseco: More money, more problems -- including bankruptcy," Sept. 27, 2012

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