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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Isle bankruptcies surged 29% in Feb.

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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The number of local consumers and businesses filing for bankruptcy protection soared by 29 percent in February, reflecting the continued weakness in Hawai'i's economy.

Bankruptcy filings rose to 291 from 226 last February, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The number of cases is the second highest monthly total during the past 12 months, behind December's 321 filings.

"The volume keeps going up, and I see no signs of it decreasing," said bankruptcy attorney David Farmer.

Filings on O'ahu were up 22 percent to 171, while Big Island bankruptcies increased 77 percent to 48. Maui filings were up 36.3 percent.

The one bright spot: Kaua'i, where bankruptcies dropped by 20 percent.

Farmer, also a court-appointed trustee for bankruptcy cases, said an increasing amount of the filings involve homeowners, whose equity has diminished.

"This is an indication of how tight money is," Farmer said.

One notable business bankruptcy during the month involved the owner of a Big Island saw mill.

Haina Properties LLC filed for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy on Sunday, listing debts of $1 million to $10 million and assets of $10 million to $50 million.

Bob Marr, a former logger, bought the 49-acre mill property in October 2007 for $3.3 million. Lenders filed a foreclosure suit against Marr in June.