United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
GEORGE M. MAROVICH, District Judge.
Plaintiff David Matichak ("Matichak") filed suit against defendants M.A. Mortenson Company (d/b/a Mortenson Construction) ("Mortenson") and Schuff Steel Co. ("Schuff") after he was injured at a construction site. When defendants realized that Matichak had filed for bankruptcy without scheduling his claims in this case, they moved for summary judgment.
Before the Court are defendants' motions for summary judgment, plaintiff's motion to strike defendants' motions and plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint in order to change the caption. For the reasons set forth below, each of these motions is denied.
The following facts are undisputed, unless otherwise noted.
In his complaint, plaintiff Matichak alleged that he was injured on August 11, 2009 when he was struck by a beam at a construction site.
On September 14, 2010, Matichak and his then-wife filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In the petition, Matichak did not disclose the existence of the claims at issue in this case. On December 21, 2010, the bankruptcy court granted the Matichaks an order of discharge, and on December 27, 2010, the bankruptcy court closed the petition and discharged the trustee.
Matichak filed this suit on December 27, 2011.
Both defendants move for summary judgment on the grounds that Matichak lacks standing to sue and is estopped from pursuing these claims. They are right, but it does not entitle them to summary judgment.
Defendants are correct that a claimant who failed to schedule his claim in bankruptcy is judicially estopped from pursuing the claim in federal court. Cannon-Stokes v. Potter, 453 F.3d 446, 448 (7th Cir. 2006). But, the claim is no longer Matichak's; it belongs to the trustee. In a nutshell:
Under § 541 of the Bankruptcy Code, all of a debtor's property, including legal claims, become part of the bankruptcy estate at the time the petition is filed. 11 U.S.C. § 541(a)(1); Cannon-Stokes, 453 F.3d at 448. The trustee may abandon a legal claim, but until then only the trustee, as the real party in interest, has standing to sue. Cannon-Stokes, 453 F.3d 448; Biesek, 440 F.3d at 413. Moreover, if a legal claim is not scheduled or otherwise administered by the time the bankruptcy is closed, it forever remains property of the estate, and the trustee remains the real party in interest. 11 U.S.C. § 554(d); Parker v. Wendy's Int'l, Inc., 365 F.3d 1268, 1272 (11th Cir. 2004).
Matthews v. Potter, 316 Fed.Appx. 518, 2009 WL 741875 at *3 (7th Cir. 2009).
So, the trustee is the real party in interest. Matichak's counsel informed the Court on October 3, 2013 that the trustee wants to pursue the claim and has hired Matichak's counsel to do so. Therefore, the caption shall be changed to reflect that the real party in interest is Peter N. Metrou, as trustee for the bankruptcy estate of David Matichak. ...