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Jenny Smith v. Haynes & Haynes P.C.

Case Type:
Consumer
Case Status:
Affirmed in part and Reversed in part
Citation:
17-14150 (11th Circuit, Oct 15,2019) Published
Tag(s):
Ruling:
Applying its ruling in Slater II, the Eleventh Circuit reversed in part the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants based on judicial estoppel arising from plaintiff's failure to disclose claims against the defendants in her prior chapter 13 case. Under Slater, a plaintiff must not only make an inconsistent statement, but such statement must be intended to make a mockery of the judicial system. The Eleventh Circuit held that an evidentiary hearing was required to determine whether plaintiff's omission from her schedules was intended to make a mockery of the courts.
Procedural context:
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama
Facts:
In July 2014, Jenny Smith ("Smith") filed a lawsuit against her employer, a law firm, and its two named partners alleging a claim for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act. She later amended her complaint to reassert the claim for unpaid overtime and to add claims for retaliation, breach of contract, and slander. Three years earlier, in April 2011, Smith, through counsel, had filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy case, but had failed to list the claims in her bankruptcy schedules. Smith confirmed a chapter 13 plan, but the case was dismissed in January 2013 for failure to make plan payments, just one month after Smith's employment with the law firm ended. Smith never amended her bankruptcy schedules to disclose any contingent or unliquidated claims against the law firm or the partners. The law firm and the partners asserted defenses of res judicata, judicial estoppel, and collateral estoppel based on Smith's failure to schedule the claims against them in her bankruptcy schedules, among other things. Without the benefit of the Eleventh Circuit's ruling in Slater II, the district court granted summary judgment with respect to Smith's claims for overtime, breach of contract, and slander, concluding that the claims were barred by judicial estoppel as a result of Smith's failure to schedule the claims in her bankruptcy case.
Judge(s):
Tjoflat and Newsom, Circuit Judges, and Antoon, District Judge

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