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Oil company owner files for bankruptcy

New Jersey residents who are overwhelmed by debts might be interested in a story about a small-business owner who recently filed for bankruptcy. In his Dec. 17 court filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the oil company owner said most of his debts were business-related.

The owner abruptly closed Norton Oil Co. in Phillipsburg, Pa, leaving some prepaid customers without a refund for the oil they had purchased, but not received. The company had served customers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The bankruptcy came the day before the New Jersey Superior Court in Belvidere was scheduled to hear claims complaints that 10 former Norton Oil customers had filed.

The owner and his wife filed jointly for Chapter 7, claiming they have $1.25 million in liabilities and only $703,000 in assets. Secured claims by the couple’s creditors totaled about $553,000, which included mortgages of around $534,500 on their home and $18,500 on a vehicle. In addition, creditors held more than $704,000 in unsecured claims.

The company said it cannot support a restructuring and reorganization under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Moreover, the owner said he didn’t have the ability to subsidize such a venture. The couple listed a monthly income of $1,955 in Social Security for the husband and $1,383 in unemployment compensation for the wife, which was less than their monthly expenses of $4,300.

The couple listed around $110,000 in personal property, most of which was in two individual retirement account accounts. A bankruptcy may give this couple a fresh start. A lawyer could provide this couple with current information about the possibility of protecting their IRAs and other assets during bankruptcy.

Source:, “Richard Norton, owner of Norton Oil Co., files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy“, Matthew Bultman, December 18, 2013

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