Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Back Injury Case on Basis of Judicial Estoppel

When you file a personal injury action or any type of legal claim, it is critical to take the process seriously and to abide by the many procedural and substantive rules that Illinois law requires. Navigating the legal system after suffering a painful injury can be incredibly overwhelming and stressful for an injury victim. The seasoned Chicago personal injury attorneys at Therman Law Offices are available to assist you with exploring your legal rights and securing the compensation that you deserve.

A recent opinion from an Illinois Court of Appeal highlights the importance of following the rules in litigation. In the underlying case, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against a company alleging that he slipped and fell on polystyrene debris that it negligently left on the floor of its warehouse. The plaintiff worked for another company that contracted with the first company to remove and bail the polystyrene. The complaint was filed on December 31, 2015.

Roughly two years later, the plaintiff filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Arizona. In his paperwork, he did not disclose the pending personal injury lawsuit. A bankruptcy petition is made under oath and subject to perjury laws. These are laws that punish individuals for falsifying information under oath. A few months later, the plaintiff sent the defendant a written offer to settle the personal injury lawsuit in the amount of $1.2 million. Throughout this period, the plaintiff made a number of amendments to his bankruptcy schedules identifying his assets.

In September 2017, the bankruptcy court confirmed a repayment plan for the plaintiff. In December, the defendant in the civil lawsuit filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff lacked standing to pursue the claim and that he was judicially estopped from seeking legal action when he failed to disclose it in the Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. The plaintiff eventually amended his bankruptcy schedule to include the personal injury action.

The civil court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment in the civil claim and the plaintiff appealed. According to the appellate court, ample evidence in the record showed that the plaintiff deliberately failed to disclose the personal injury claim in the bankruptcy proceeding. During a deposition in the civil proceeding, the plaintiff denied having ever filed bankruptcy. Also, when the plaintiff finally updated his bankruptcy schedule, he listed the value of the personal injury litigation at $300,000, which was only 25% of the settlement offer he had sent to the defendant previously.

Finding that the defendant had met the elements of judicial estoppel, the appellate court approved the lower court’s dismissal of the civil lawsuit. Judicial estoppel is a doctrine that prevents a party from taking inconsistent positions in different legal proceedings. Here, the plaintiff denied the existence of the personal injury action in the bankruptcy proceeding while simultaneously pursuing the personal injury action and denying that he had filed bankruptcy.

If you are considering seeking damages for your personal injury accident, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Therman Law Offices. We will guide you throughout the legal process and help you ensure that you are asserting your rights while following the rules. We offer a free and confidential consultation to discuss your situation. Call today at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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