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Smith v. Integrated Management Services, LLC

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

September 25, 2019

RICHARD SMITH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT SERVICES, LLC, an Ohio Limited Liability Company, Defendant-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court No. 15-L-926 of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois. Honorable Raymond E. Rossi, Judge, Presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant: Jonathan P. Crannell, of Marker & Crannell, of Naperville, for appellant.

          Attorneys for Appellee: Richard J. Turiello, of Krakar, Fanning & Olsen, of Chicago, for appellee.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice McDade concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Lytton specially concurred, with opinion.



         ¶ 1 Plaintiff Richard Smith alleges he fell in the course of his employment as a truck driver for Ricoh Americas Corporation (Ricoh), sustaining a back injury. He alleged his fall was due to defendant's negligent handling of slippery debris. After this cause of action accrued, plaintiff filed for bankruptcy. Plaintiff did not include this cause of action in his bankruptcy estate. It is patently obvious that he lied under oath both to the bankruptcy court and in a deposition taken in the case at bar. Defendant moved for summary judgment after learning plaintiff was suing for his own benefit and took an inconsistent position in the bankruptcy court. Defendant argued plaintiff (1) was judicially estopped from bringing the personal injury action after failing to disclose the claim during the bankruptcy proceedings and (2) lacked standing to pursue the claim for his own benefit when the claim was the property of the bankruptcy estate. The circuit court found that defendant proved all of the required elements for judicial estoppel by clear and convincing evidence and that plaintiff lacked standing to pursue the action for his own benefit. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Plaintiffs complaint alleges that on February 26, 2014, he worked as a truck driver for Ricoh. In the course of his employment, he fell on polystyrene debris on the floor of Ricoh's warehouse, sustaining a back injury. Ricoh contracted with defendant to collect and bail the polystyrene.

         ¶ 4 On December 31, 2015, plaintiff filed this personal injury suit against defendant in the circuit court of Will County, Illinois, alleging that defendant negligently bailed the polystyrene, which led to the slippery conditions that caused plaintiffs fall and resulting injuries.

         ¶ 5 In March 2017, plaintiff filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona. He failed to disclose the personal injury action in his petition for bankruptcy or any of the related statements or schedules that he made under oath and on penalty of perjury. One schedule asked whether plaintiff had any claims against third parties, regardless of whether he had pursued legal action. Plaintiff did not disclose this action. Plaintiffs statement of financial affairs (SOFA) required him to list all lawsuits and court actions to which he was a party. He disclosed two collection actions but failed to include this personal injury action.

         ¶ 6 On April 26, 2017, plaintiff testified under oath in his bankruptcy proceedings. He averred that the petition and schedules were true and complete. He denied needing to make any changes.

         ¶ 7 Five days later, on May 1, 2017, plaintiff testified at a deposition in this case. The attorney asked him directly, "Have you ever declared bankruptcy?" Plaintiff responded, "No." The next day, plaintiff amended a schedule in his bankruptcy proceedings. However, he did not include any information regarding the existence of this lawsuit.

         ¶ 8 In August 2017, plaintiff sent defendant a written offer to settle the personal injury action for $1.2 million that encompassed medical bills, lost wages, as well as past and future pain and suffering. Later in August, plaintiff, again, amended a schedule in his bankruptcy proceedings and failed to mention this case.

         ¶ 9 On September 11, 2017, the bankruptcy court confirmed plaintiffs full-repayment plan. The court ordered plaintiff to pay all secured creditors in full plus interest. Plaintiff would pay unsecured claims in full over the course of five ...

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