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Can I sue BECU for violating bankruptcy chapter 7 automatic stay?

Everett, WA |

My husband and I filed for bankruptcy due to enormous medical bills for our infant daughter in January 2013. Our bankruptcy is still currently open and not set for discharge for a few more weeks. Last night, Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU) had our vehicle impounded from our home in the middle of the night. We filed a statement of intentions, they NEVER filed a motion with the court to lift the stay, and we did everything perfect (paperwork-wise) with the help of a bankruptcy attorney. There's only a few weeks left of our bankruptcy and we DID intend to give the car back but what are my options in regards to A) Obtaining my personal belongings out of the vehicle and B) filing a complaint against this bank? Would it be worth our while to sue them for the violation?

In our original statement of intentions we planned on signing a reaffirmation agreement but decided recently to not go through it. (We never signed any reaffirmation paperwork)

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Attorney answers 2


First, if you are represented by counsel, you should check with them. Second, with the stated intention of surrendering the vehicle, you have 30 days after your 341 to do that or the stay is automatically lifted. Sounds like they may have taken it around that time.

My response is general information not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. Seek advice from a qualified attorney to see how the law fits your specific facts. I am licensed to practice law in Washington and Oregon.


You definitely need to speak to your lawyer about this right away. I agree with my colleague -- BECU may be within their rights to do what they did BUT, the property in the car, as well as the tag and other similar items, remain property of the bankruptcy estate. What this means is that they may have technically violated the stay, but I suspect that giving them a call will be all that is required to reacquire your personal property.

Good luck to you!