Add Jamal Lafitte Lewis to the List of Pro Athlete and Celebrity Bankruptcy Filings


On April 3, 2012, former professional football player Jamal Lafitte Lewis filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the Northern District of Georgia, Bankruptcy Case No. 12-58938.  Jamal Lewis played for the Baltimore Ravens for years and retired from the NFL in 2009.  While Mr. Lewis has sought protection from his creditors by filing bankruptcy, Chapter 11 is a reorganization of his debts and not necessarily a discharge of debts.  Most likely some of Mr. Lewis’ unsecured debt will be discharged though.  Time will tell if Mr. Lewis actually files a disclosure statement and plan.

Despite having retired from the national football league Mr. Lewis has listed his monthly income as $35,000 a month.  This is impressive given the number of years Mr. Lewis has not played football.  It would appear from the bankruptcy schedules and statements that Mr. Lewis is facing a number of issues in his business life.  In November 2011 $95,000 was seized from the bank accounts of one of his companies, JLew Enterprises, LLC, a company set up for Mr. Lewis’ speaking and appearance engagements.  If $95,000 was seized from JLew Enterprises, LLC, the company was most likely sued and a judgment was obtained, or a creditor obtained a prejudgment writ of attachment to seize the funds.  Seizing funds prior to obtaining a judgment is an extraordinary remedy and does not bode well for JLew Enterprises, LLC.

Mr. Lewis’ schedules and statements also list a theft of $3,000,000 from Mr. Lewis’ trucking company named All American Xpress, Inc. between 2006 – Present.  It would appear that Mr. Lewis’ has been a victim of embezzlement or some other sort of theft related to his trucking company.  One of the most overlooked reasons why someone chooses to file for bankruptcy protection is when they are victimized by others.

Unlike many of the celebrity and pro-athlete bankruptcy filings Mr. Lewis’ has significant personal assets.  Schedule B lists approximately $12 million in assets including 47 foot powerboat, 2005 F-650 XUV trust, 2008 Mercedes GL 550, 2009 Mercedes CL 63, a $250,000 judgment against Bradley Lowery, Jr.  Some of these assets have loans and liens secured against the assets.

The judgment against Bradley Lowery, Jr. resulted from another unfortunate business dealing.  According to court documents, Bankruptcy Case No. 09-06771, Mr. Lewis entered into a contract with Mr. Lowery to build a home at 568 Trabert Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia.  Mr. Lowery received approximately $680,000 of the $2.4 million Mr. Lewis borrowed to build the home.  Mr. Lewis then sued Lowery in Superior Court. The Superior Court Order and subsequent judgment awarded Lewis $1,314,694 in actual damages, $304,000 in consequential damages, $4,010 in attorney’s fees and $250,000 in punitive damages. Lowery then filed for bankruptcy protection himself in October 2009.  Mr. Lewis and his bankruptcy attorney then sued Mr. Lowery seeking a determination that his state court judgment against Mr. Lowery not be discharged in the bankruptcy.  Mr. Lewis was successful, but just because you have the right to collect does not mean you are going to collect.  Mr. Lewis’ schedules list that the judgment against Mr. Lowery is uncollectable.  So now after all the legal wrangling Mr. Lewis is left holding a loan of over $2 million and a partially built house worth $500,000.

Another interesting note in the bankruptcy case is the listing of a claim against the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and the NFL for worker’s compensation and personal injury.  It is unclear if Mr. Lewis have filed hit own lawsuits or is part of the class action lawsuits we have all heard about regarding concussions.

I tell clients every day that there are a millions reasons why people file bankruptcy.  It would appear that between Mr. Lewis’ unfortunate experience trying to build a home and the alleged theft of $3,000,000 from his trucking company were too much.  Currently there is a motion to dismiss Mr. Lewis’ bankruptcy case.  Hopefully Mr. Lewis and his bankruptcy attorney will do what is necessary for the case to continue and Mr. Lewis can move on to happier things.