People seeking debt relief via bankruptcy actions must file legal pleadings with the court and verify that the information contained in those pleadings is accurate. If they take a certain position in a bankruptcy action, they cannot, at a later date, take a contrary position to suit their changed needs. This tenet, known as the doctrine of estoppel, was explained in a recent California bankruptcy action where a debtor who originally asserted he was an employee of a company later attempted to argue he was a sole proprietor in an adversary proceeding. If you are interested in learning how you may benefit from filing for bankruptcy, it is smart to meet with a California bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible.
Background of the Case
It is reported that the debtor filed an adversary proceeding against the defendant, asking the court to reinstate an office lease and grant him damages for the defendant’s violation of the automatic stay, after the defendant took possession of property rented by a business. The defendant moved for judgment in its favor on the grounds of estoppel. The court, finding inconsistencies between the debtor’s bankruptcy filings and the allegations in his adversary complaint regarding the lease and other business-related property, granted the motion. The debtor appealed.
Estoppel in Bankruptcy Cases
On appeal, the court upheld the lower court ruling. The court explained that judicial estoppel prevents a debtor from asserting a claim in the current proceeding that is inconsistent with a claim they made in a previous proceeding. In the subject case, the position the debtor asserted in his adversary proceeding regarding ownership and operation of a business and its assets were clearly inconsistent with his bankruptcy schedules, amendments, and Chapter 13 plan.