UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
EARL JEWEL BLANKS, III
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
The bankruptcy trustee in this chapter 7 case has filed a motion to compel turnover
of records of the debtor’s account with American Express Travel Related Services Company
(“American Express”). The trustee sent American Express a letter requesting the records. American
Express replied with a letter stating, in effect, that it would turn over the records only if it received
a subpoena from the court.
The trustee’s motion alleges:
The debtor in this case has an unusually large amount of credit card debt.
The trustee has requested information from various credit card holders,
including American Express, requesting a transaction history of the debtor’s
As evidenced by the attached letter, American Express has a policy of
refusing to provide this information to the trustee in the absence of appropri-
ate Orders issued by the Court.
This recorded information is essential to the trustee fulfilling his responsibil-
ity in evaluating the liabilities and purchases made within twelve (12) months
preceding the filing of the bankruptcy proceeding.
The motion requests an order directing American Express to turn over the debtor’s
records for the six months prior to bankruptcy and requiring American Express to pay the trustee’s
expenses in obtaining the records.
American Express filed a response to the trustee’s motion. American Express makes
two points in support of its refusal to turn over the records to the trustee without a subpoena. First,
the Right to Financial Privacy Act (the Privacy Act) prevents it from turning over the records without
a court order. The Privacy Act is codified at 12 U.S.C. §§ 3401–3422.
Second, even if the Privacy Act does not apply, the bankruptcy trustee must follow
the usual procedures required by the bankruptcy statutes and rules to compel American Express to
furnish the records because the statutes and rules do not require a