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The circuit court heard arguments on the application of judicial estoppel to the present case, and it concluded that Adams's failure to inform the bankruptcy court of her cause of action was not inadvertent. Weighing on the other side was the bankruptcy court's holding that Adams had a continuing duty to update her bankruptcy schedules, that Adams began investigating a claim about her mother's care years before her mother died and suit was filed, that Adams amended her bankruptcy schedules only after Graceland filed its motion to dismiss; and that Adams is the sole beneficiary of her mother and the suit.
In looking at the elements of judicial estoppel and the facts as presented to the circuit court, it is evident to the Court that the circuit court did not err in finding Adams judicially estopped from bringing her suit. First, the bankruptcy court's holding that Adams had a continuing duty to update her bankruptcy schedules, which she did not do, helps satisfy the first element of judicial estoppel that Adams has taken inconsistent positions.
Next, the bankruptcy court accepting the original bankruptcy schedules and then discharging Adams under the original schedules without the lawsuit listed satisfies the second element of judicial estoppel that a court accepted Adams's previous position. Additionally, Adams's attempt to amend her bankruptcy schedules after Graceland filed the motion for summary judgment does not cure the fact that the bankruptcy court relied on her position. Tyson Foods Inc. The final element is whether Adams did not inadvertently take the inconsistent positions.
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See id. Motivation in this context is self-evident because of potential financial benefit resulting from the nondisclosure. In dissents, Presiding Justice Dickinson and Justice Kitchens both attempt to create an issue of fact by citing Adams's affidavit in which she averred that she was distracted by the treatment of her mother to the point that it did not occur to her to update her bankruptcy schedules. We must in the summary judgment take such averments as true, but even taken as true, they do not change the result.
In the context of judicial estoppel, distraction and forgetfulness do not suffice to show inadvertence. Neither applies to Adams here, however good a reason she may have had for her distraction. The trial court correctly found, based on undisputed facts, that she had both knowledge of her claim and a motive for concealing it. By law, her failure to disclose the asset on her bankruptcy schedules could not have been inadvertent, no matter if she was distracted.
Presiding Justice Dickinson contends that Adams has created an issue of material fact as to motive with her above-described affidavit. Yet we do not, as he accuses, affirm summary judgment despite the existence of a disputed issue of material fact. Rather, we take the facts averred by Adams in her affidavit as true, but in the end hold them to be immaterial given the law. See Bradley v. Kelley Bros.
Contractors, Inc. In In re Superior Crewboats, Inc. Like Adams, the plaintiffs in Superior Crewboats claimed that their failure to report the injury claim resulted from confusion — in their case over what law applied to their personal injury claim. Accordingly, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court, which had found that the debtors created an issue of material fact when they claimed that their confusion caused them to fail to report the claim.
Then, the Fifth Circuit proceeded to do exactly what we do above — and what Presiding Justice Dickinson would take us to task for doing — by holding that the debtors indeed had a motive by writing as follows:. The Hudspeaths had the requisite motivation to conceal the claim as they would certainly reap a windfall had they been able to recover on the undisclosed claim without having disclosed it to the creditors.
Alberto Culver P. In Burnes v. Pemco Aeroplex, Inc.
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In the case sub judice, the trial judge did just that in exercising his discretion in applying the doctrine of judicial estoppel. The efficacy of federal bankruptcy proceedings, including fairness to creditors, relies on such full and honest disclosure. Accordingly, we consider persuasive the federal authorities cited above, that infer motive from the circumstances of the record even in the face of claims of inadvertence by debtors. Omnova Sols.
Therefore, based on our review of the record and our standard of review, we hold that the circuit court's decision has support in the evidence and our precedent, and we decline to hold that the circuit court abused its discretion in concluding that Adams was judicially estopped from bringing her suit.
Sutton, So. Heigle, So. In light of our determination that the circuit court did not err in finding Adams judicially estopped from pursuing her suit, we cannot hold that any genuine issue of material fact exists for which Adams could defeat summary judgment. Therefore, the circuit court's grant of summary judgment was appropriate.
The proper standard of review for reviewing a trial court's imposition of judicial estoppel is the abuse of discretion standard, and the proper standard of review for reviewing a trial court's decision to grant or deny summary judgment is de novo. Because the Court of Appeals erroneously applied a de novo review to the circuit court's imposition of judicial estoppel, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals, and we reinstate and affirm the judgment of the circuit court.
I join Justice Kitchens's well-reasoned dissent. But I am compelled to write separately to address the majority's troubling conclusion that, for the first time in this Court's history, a disputed fact question does not doom summary judgment, but rather is to be decided by the trial court and reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Because Shirley Adams created a disputed question of material fact when she swore she did not know she was supposed to list her lawsuit in bankruptcy, summary judgment is inappropriate.
I do not suggest Adams created a genuine issue of material fact by claiming mere distraction. The majority correctly points out that in In re Superior Crewboats, Inc.
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I challenge the majority logically to explain how one can possess a motive to withhold disclosure of information that person is unaware of any obligation to disclose. One cannot reach the majority's conclusion without resolving the disputed fact question as to whether Adams was aware she had to disclose this suit in her bankruptcy filings. In her affidavit, she swears she was unaware of this and that should defeat summary judgment. I predict the majority's decision to impose upon circuit judges the duty to judge the credibility of affidavits filed in opposition to motions for summary judgment, will come as a curiosity to the Bar and an unpleasant surprise to the Bench.
Because the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to Graceland on the basis of judicial estoppel, I respectfully dissent. The majority bases its holding that judicial estoppel is reviewed for an abuse of discretion on Kirk v. But in Kirk, this Court was reviewing a motion for relief from judgment, filed pursuant to Rule 60 b of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, through which the defendant had asserted judicial estoppel.
Kirk, So. A Rule 60 b motion is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Williams, So. Here, the defendants asserted judicial estoppel through a motion for summary judgment, filed pursuant to Rule 56 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. Lathem, So. Warren, 10 So. Hollowell, So. In Copiah County v. Indeed, the Oliver Court affirmed the denial of summary judgment because the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Mississippi had not yet determined whether Oliver had a duty to disclose her personal injury claim to the bankruptcy court. In Gibson v.
If [Gibson's] assertions prove to be true, and his claims later prove to be meritorious, then he signed the petitions either because he had received bad advice from his attorney, or because his attorney had breached a fiduciary duty to him by failing to fully inform him of the implications of signing the petitions. After conducting a de novo review, this Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the defendants and remanded the case to the trial court. This Court in Gibson applied a de novo standard of review in considering whether to apply judicial estoppel to Gibson's legal malpractice claims.
I respectfully disagree that the Court of Appeals plurality erred in its application of that standard to the present case. The defendants elected to raise judicial estoppel through a motion for summary judgment. Therefore, they are bound on appeal by the standard of review applicable to that procedural mechanism. It is true that Adams is her mother's survivor and only heir and therefore the beneficiary of the present lawsuit.
Tyson Foods, Inc.
I had no idea that I was supposed to change my bankruptcy to show the lawsuit. Skouteris, did most of the talking to Mr. Reynolds and his staff members who prepared the papers. At her deposition, Adams was candid that she had not listed the lawsuit as an asset on her bankruptcy schedule of assets. Alphabetized by county name.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Also included are women who achieved other distinctions such becoming the first in their state to obtain a law degree or become a political figure Contents. Slow Travels-Mississippi. Lyn Wilkerson.
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