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In re- 450 S. WESTERN AVE., LLC,

Summarizing by Bradley Pearce

Anderson v. Seven Falls Co.

Case Type:
Case Status:
16-1377 (10th Circuit, Jun 12,2017) Not Published
Judicial estoppel applies if a party’s position is clearly inconsistent with its former position; the party succeeded in persuading a court to accept that party’s position, so that judicial acceptance of an inconsistent position in a later proceeding would create the perception that either the first or the second court was misled, and; the party seeking to assert an inconsistent position gains an unfair advantage if not estopped. Judicial estoppel prevents a debtor from recovering the full amount of her personal injury claim for failing to disclose the claim in her bankruptcy schedules.
Procedural context:
The 10th Circuit affirmed the District Court’s granting summary judgment in favor of defendant in a personal injury action brought by the chapter 7 trustee of debtor’s bankruptcy case. The 10th Circuit reviewed the District Court’s judicial estoppel ruling under an abuse of discretion standard.
Debtor and her future husband were visiting a creek and waterfall observation point in Colorado Springs, CO operated by Seven Falls. Debtor twisted her ankle and retained an attorney to see if she could recover her medical expenses and the attorney made a claim for those expenses. In March 2011, about 10 months after the accident, debtor was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)—a lifelong, debilitating condition—in the region around her injured ankle and her attorney made a settlement demand on Seven Falls’ insurer. In June 2011, debtor and her husband married and in July 2011, filed a joint chapter 7 case. They did not disclose the claim against Seven Falls in their bankruptcy schedules, the case was declared to be a no asset case and the debtor received a discharge. In June 2012, a second doctor confirmed Davies’ CRPS diagnosis. On June 8, 2012, nearly eight months after discharge, she filed an action against Seven Falls, claiming over $5 million in damages. Debtor reopened her bankruptcy case and disclosed the claim. The trustee substituted in as the proper party. Seven Falls moved for summary judgment arguing that judicial estoppel barred recovery except to the extent necessary to pay off debtor’s creditors and attorney’s fee and costs plus the trustee’s fees. These amounts had not been determined and on remand, this amount was determined to be $45,662.04.
Briscoe, Ebel, Matheson

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