Skip to main content

Gather Round Childrens -- Let's Talk Judicial Estoppel!


Settle in kiddies, gather round the campfire, and get ready to be wowed and amazed by an 11th Circuit tall tale involving the "dignity" of our court system -- don't change positions just for tactical advantage:
The equitable doctrine of judicial estoppel, also known as the doctrine of preclusion of inconsistent positions, “precludes a party from asserting a . . . position that contradicts or is inconsistent with a prior position taken by the same party.”  18 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore’s Federal Practice ¶ 131.13[6][a] (3d ed. 2015).  The doctrine differs from the doctrines of issue and claim preclusion in that the policy animating it “is not [primarily] concerned with preserving the finality of judgments” but is concerned, instead, with “the orderly administration of justice and regard for the dignity of court proceedings.”  Id. ¶ 131.13[6][c].  The doctrine may be invoked by a third party: that is, someone who was not a party in the adversary’s prior proceeding and therefore would suffer no prejudice were the adversary permitted to go forward with the inconsistent position.  Id. ¶ 134.33[1].1
This is so in our circuit.  We do not require that the party invoking the doctrine have been a party in the prior proceeding.  “The doctrine of judicial estoppel protects the integrity of the judicial system, not the litigants; therefore, . . .[w]hile privity and/or detrimental reliance are often present in judicial estoppel cases, they are not required.”
But Judge Tjoflat holds his nose in special concurrence:
I concur in the court’s judgment because the result is dictated by Eleventh Circuit precedent.  I write separately because that precedent, the doctrine of judicial estoppel as laid out in Burnes v. Pemco Aeroplex, Inc.1 and Barger v. City of Cartersville,2 was wrongly decided.  The consequences of today’s decision make the problem clear: U.S. Steel is granted a windfall, Slater’s creditors are deprived of an asset, and the Bankruptcy Court is stripped of its discretion.
So was the "integrity of the judicial system" protected by this outcome?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My Kind of Federal Judge!

Sure we have Scott Rothstein and his lovely Tom James clothier Romina Sifuentes, but Louisiana has ED LA judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr.:
A federal judge from Louisiana who had run up big gambling debts routinely solicited money and gifts from lawyers with cases before his court, Congressional investigators said Tuesday as the House opened impeachment hearings in the judge’s case. The judge, G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of Federal District Court, had more than $150,000 in credit card debt by 2000, mostly for cash advances spent in casinos, investigators said. Judge Porteous’s requests for cash became so frequent that one New Orleans lawyer said he started trying to dodge the judge.“He began to use excuses that he needed it for tuition, he needed it for living expenses,” the lawyer, Robert Creely, told a House Judiciary Committee task force. “I would avoid him until I couldn’t avoid him anymore.”
Mr. Creely said he and his law partner, Jacob Amato, gave Judge Porteous an estimated $20,000 o…

Honoring Richard C. Seavey

I drank a shit-ton of bourbon last night. Enough to float a battleship.

My head hurts. But not as much as my heart.

We lost another lawyer over the weekend. Not someone who will receive facebook accolades and other public claims of friendship and statements that he shaped and changed lives and careers. Just a guy who did the best he could with what he had. Every day. And he did very, very well to be the best person he could be. 
Richard Seavey was a profoundly private person. In his 49 years, he walked through more than his share of trials and tribulations, mostly asking for no help, leaning on no one. 

Richard was a fantastic lawyer. He could try a case. He could "litigate" a case. He could mediate and settle a case. He was nuanced. He bent but never broke. The blustery Miami lawyer never scared him. To the contrary, he found humor in it, studying it like a science project. Richard never got too high or too low. He was good at lawyering, but you got the f…

First Carnival Triumph Lawsuit on File!

It was filed in the SD FL (of course) and is pending before Judge Graham.

Check it out here.

The lawyer on the pleading is Marcus R. Spagnoletti.