Summary Judgment for DC Surgeon and Hospital Accused of Negligence

By: Janet A. Forero | 12.21.18 | janet-a-forero

Janet A. Forero recently won summary judgment in favor of a surgeon and hospital accused of negligence because the plaintiff had knowingly failed to disclose her potential lawsuit in her bankruptcy proceedings. Ms. Forero moved for judgment, arguing judicial estoppel, because the plaintiff had filed for bankruptcy—without disclosing her potential lawsuit to the bankruptcy trustee and her creditors—long after the relevant surgery but before filing her lawsuit. Judicial estoppel prevents parties from prevailing in separate judicial proceedings on contradictory arguments, i.e. having one court forgive her debts because she had no potential claims and then later pursuing the undisclosed claim in another court. The doctrine is well-known, but courts rarely enforce it. The motion was initially denied. But Ms. Forero extracted key concessions at the plaintiff’s deposition and renewed her motion, which the court granted because the evidence developed in discovery now conclusively showed that the doctrine applies.