In a recent opinion, the Fifth Circuit affirmed a district court ruling that found that a debtor was judicially estopped from claiming a stay violation by a mortgagee, who foreclosed on the debtor’s property, due to the debtor’s failure to disclose the affected property or his putative claims in his bankruptcy.
The Fifth Circuit explained that the “doctrine of judicial estoppel is equitable in nature and can be invoked by a court to prevent a party from asserting a position in a legal proceeding that is inconsistent with a position taken in a previous proceeding.” The Fifth Circuit further emphasized that judicial estoppel “is particularly appropriate where . . . a party fails to disclose an asset to a bankruptcy court, but then pursues a claim in a separate tribunal based on that undisclosed asset.”
Examining the facts of the case, the Court determined that “Chapter 13 debtors have a continuing obligation to amend financial schedules to disclose assets acquired post-petition,” and the debtor failed to fulfill this duty. By failing to amend his asset schedule the debtor “impliedly represented” to the bankruptcy court that his financial status was unchanged.
Read the full opinion here.