United States District Court, E.D. California
ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on defendant's motion for
summary judgment on the grounds of judicial estoppel. ECF No.
37. A hearing was held on June 6, 2017. ECF No. 41. The
parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the magistrate
judge. ECF No. 15. Having considered the arguments presented
by both parties and all of the evidence submitted, the court
DENIES defendant's motion for summary judgment, and
ORDERS the parties to participate in a status conference on
June 28, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY
complaint in this case was filed on December 31, 2014. ECF
No. 1. An amended complaint was filed on March 26, 2015. ECF
No. 8. Defendant answered on April 21, 2015. ECF No. 10.
Defendant affirmatively pled equitable defenses, including
estoppel. Id. at 13. The assertion of estoppel and
other equitable defenses was not supported by any factual
allegations, regarding a prior bankruptcy or otherwise.
April 28, 2017, defendant moved for summary judgment on the
grounds that plaintiff is judicially estopped from bringing
his discrimination claim in this court due to his failure to
disclose the claim in his earlier bankruptcy proceeding. ECF
Summary Judgment Standard
succeed on summary judgment, the moving party must
demonstrate that there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party
“bears the initial responsibility of informing the
district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying
those portions of ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, ' which it believes demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). If the moving party meets its
initial responsibility, the burden shifts to the non-moving
party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material
fact exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
submitted by the non-moving party is presumed valid, and all
reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the
non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, the non-moving party
cannot simply rest on its allegations without any significant
probative evidence tending to support the complaint. See
U.A. Local 343 v. Nor-Cal Plumbing, Inc., 48 F.3d 1465,
1471 (9th Cir.1995). “[A] complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's
case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.
estoppel is an equitable doctrine invoked by the court at its
discretion. New Hampshire v. Maine, 532 U.S. 742,
750 (2001). The doctrine exists to “protect the
integrity of the judicial process by prohibiting parties from
deliberately changing positions according to the exigencies
of the moment.” Id. at 743. Courts consider
three factors to determine whether judicial estoppel is
appropriate in a given case: (1) whether a party's later
position is clearly inconsistent with its earlier position;
(2) whether the party has succeeded in persuading a court to
accept the earlier position; and (3) whether the party would
derive an unfair advantage or impose an unfair detriment on
the opposing party if not estopped. Hamilton v. State
Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 270 F.3d 778, 782-83 (9th Cir.
bankruptcy context, a default rule applies: If a
plaintiff-debtor omits a pending or imminent lawsuit from the
bankruptcy schedules and obtains a discharge, judicial
estoppel bars the action. Ah Quin v. County of Kauai
Dep't of Transp., 733 F.3d 267, 271 (9th Cir. 2013).
However, mistake or inadvertence on the part of the
plaintiff-debtor may weigh against the application of
judicial estoppel. The “presumption of deceit”
underlying the default rule does not apply where the
plaintiff-debtor has reopened the bankruptcy and corrected
the erroneous filing. Id. at 276.
In these circumstances . . . judicial estoppel requires an
inquiry into whether the plaintiff's bankruptcy filing
was, in fact, inadvertent or mistaken, as those terms are
commonly understood. Courts must determine whether
the omission occurred by accident or was made without intent
to conceal. The relevant inquiry is not limited to the
plaintiff's knowledge of the pending claim and the
universal motive to conceal a potential asset - though those
are certainly factors. The relevant inquiry is, more broadly,
the plaintiff's subjective intent when filling out and
signing the bankruptcy schedules.
Id. at 276-77.