The Eleventh Circuit Establishes New Standard for Judicial Estoppel in Bankruptcy Cases

Brenton Thompson*

INTRODUCTION

On September 18, 2017, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, held that before precluding a debtor’s claim on judicial estoppel grounds, district court judges are required to consider all facts and circumstances to determine whether omitting a pending civil claim from a bankruptcy filing evinces a debtor’s intent to make a mockery of the judicial system.[1]  This standard—intent to make a mockery of the judicial system—serves as the second prong in a two-part analytical framework employed by the Eleventh Circuit to evaluate the appropriateness of judicial estoppel.[2]  The full court remanded the case to the three-judge panel[3] to decide the case under the new standard.[4]

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* Candidate for Juris Doctor, Cumberland School of Law, Class of 2019. Junior Editor, Cumberland Law Review. Bachelor of Science, Auburn University, Class of 2016.

[1] Slater v. U.S. Steel Corp., No. 12-15548, 2017 WL 4110047, at *1 (11th Cir. Sept. 18, 2017) (Slater II).

[2] Id. at *5.

[3] The three judge panel consists of Eleventh Circuit Judges Gerald Bard Tjoflat and William H. Pryor, and Southern District of Florida Judge Robert N. Scola. Slater v. U.S. Steel Corp., 820 F.3d 1193, 1195 (11th Cir. 2016) (Slater I).

[4] Slater II, 2017 WL 4110047, at *12.

[5] See Burnes v. Pemco Aeroplex, Inc., 291 F.3d 1282, 1287-88 (11th Cir. 2002).

[6] Slater II, 2017 WL 4110047, at *8.

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