Ex-governor candidate seeks bankruptcy protection

Jan. 09, 2014 @ 08:00 PM

Former North Carolina House member and previous gubernatorial candidate Bill Faison has filed for bankruptcy protection.

A federal court document Faison filed Jan. 3 lists the personal injury attorney as having assets of $9.4 million and liabilities of $7.2 million.

He said this week the Chapter 11 filing will allow him to restructure debt related to his Durham law firm that he personally guaranteed, and that he expects to pay all of his creditors. Faison attributed his problems in part to the Great Recession and changes approved by the General Assembly to limit medical malpractice cases.

The 66-year-old Faison, who lives in Orange County, was a state House member for eight years and ran third in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2012, losing to Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton.

Faison said in an interview Thursday that the type of practice that his former firm, Faison & Gillespie, was doing had “huge peaks and valleys.”

The firm incurred debt to invest in cases and maintain the business’ cash flow needs as there were times when it collected a “great deal of money for clients,” he said, and times when it wasn’t collecting any.

The recession and changes to the state’s medical malpractice law affected the value of the cases they were working on, he said, as well as future cases. The law set a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages, which are awarded to compensate for pain, suffering and emotional distress and other impacts.

“This is really about reorganizing commercial debt that exists for the former law form, for which I am a guarantor, and for a way to orderly see that the creditors get paid in full,” he said of the bankruptcy filing.

Faison & Gillespie is no longer an active firm, Faison said. Since February of 2012, he said he’s practiced with a different Durham firm named Faison Law Group, which is still off of U.S. 15-501.

He said the firm wants to take on a wider range of cases. However, according to the court filing, he expects a reduction in income as he partially or fully retires from practicing law, and to replace that income with retirement money.

“I certainly know that medical malpractice -- a practice focused on medical malpractice -- cannot go forward as we were organized to do it,” Faison said. “So the impact of the changes that I’ve made, and how they will reflect in the future – it’s too early to assess.”

Faison also said he has property that is still tied up in his ongoing divorce proceedings. According to the court filing, he has interests in homes in Orange County, a lake house, farm and other property.


The Herald-Sun’s Laura Oleniacz contributed to this report.