Bankruptcy schedule = judicial estoppel of FCA claim — UPDATED

Johnny Long, a former bankruptcy debtor, sought to bring FCA claims against his former employer.  The defendant successfully obtained dismissal on the ground of judicial estoppel  because the claim was not listed on Long’s bankruptcy schedules.  After reminding that judicial estoppel, as a flexible and equitable doctrine, does not automatically compel dismissal in such a situation, the Fifth Circuit affirmed.  The elements are that “(1) the party against whom judicial estoppel is sought has asserted a legal position which is plainly inconsistent with a prior position, (2) a court accepted the prior position, and (3) the party did not act inadvertently.”  The specific issue was the third element, and whether Long had a motivation to conceal.  The Court noted three advantageous features the payment terms in Long’s Chapter 13 plan, which disclosure could have endangered — and further noted that after judicial estoppel was raised, Long sought to reopen his case so “he may pay interest to his creditors” if he recovered on his FCA claim.  United States ex rel Long v. GSD&M Idea City, LLC, 798 F.3d 265 (5th Cir. 2015).  A later award to the defendant of roughly $200,000 in costs was substantially affirmed in United States ex rel Long v. GSDMidea City, LLC, No. 14-11049 (Dec. 1, 2015).

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