Hermann v. Hartford Casualty Insurance Co.
- Case Type:
- Case Status:
- No. 16-1145 (10th Circuit, Jan 12,2017) Not Published
- The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a debtor's claim against an insurance company for wrongful denial of a worker's compensation, holding that the debtor was judicially estopped from asserting the claim for failure to disclose the claim in his schedules.
- Procedural context:
- The debtor filed suit against his insurance company for unreasonably delaying and denying the debtor's worker's compensation claim. When the insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that the claim was barred by the doctrine of judicial estoppel, the debtor moved to reopen his chapter 7 case to amend his schedules to list the claim. Although the bankruptcy court permitted such amendment, the district court held that the amendment did not cure the prior defect and dismissed the claim. The district court also considered and rejected arguments that disclosure of a "potential personal injury award" was sufficient to encompass disclosure of the worker's compensation claim, that the nondisclosure was inadvertent, and also rejected the argument that a lesser sanction should be considered.
- The debtor was injured in an auto accident in December 2009, after which he submitted claims under his uninsured motorist coverage and for worker's compensation. The insurance company initially denied the worker's compensation claim, but eventually accepted the claim five months' later. Shortly thereafter, the debtor and his wife filed chapter 7 bankruptcy. On their schedules, they listed a "potential personal injury award" under Schedule B, but did not list any claim for unreasonable delay or denial of the worker's compensation claim. Evidence showed that there was discussion of the debtor's worker's compensation payments with the trustee at the creditor's meeting, but no mention of any claim against the insurance company.
- Holmes, Baldock, and Bacharach
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