Feb 2 2014

Courtroom Success 2014-4: Springfield Associate Jennifer Rymarski

Springfield Associate Jennifer Rymarski  was successful in obtaining summary judgment on behalf of a physician and physician's assistant in a medical malpractice case based on the Doctrine of Judicial Estoppel. The plaintiffs filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding which requires on-going disclosure of all of their property and assets, including known and unknown claims.  The plaintiffs failed to disclose in their Bankruptcy Petition this underlying medical malpractice case.  The defendants, who were represented by a bankruptcy attorney and personal injury attorney, claimed ignorance about their duty to amend their schedules.  The Arbitrator who decided this motion correctly applied the application of judicial estoppel.  This doctrine may result in a windfall to the defendants, as the doctrine was applied to protect and "safeguard the integrity of the courts by preventing parties from improperly manipulating the machinery of the judicial system...and from playing fast and loose with the courts."  In this case, the plaintiffs and their attorneys were aware of the malpractice action during the pendency of their bankruptcy proceeding and well prior to their discharge, and had a motive for concealment.  The Arbitrator, in applying this doctrine, dismissed all claims against the physician and physician’s assistant. 

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