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Jones v. Bob Evans Farms, Inc.

United States District Court, Western District of Missouri, Western Division

February 3, 2015

JERRY D. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
BOB EVANS FARMS, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

ORTRIE D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

Defendants Joy Willis, Teresa Scroggins, and Bob Evans Farms, Inc. (“Defendants”) move for summary judgment (Doc. #44). For the following reasons, Defendants’ motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court has reviewed the record. The following facts are either uncontroverted or controverted but construed in Plaintiff’s favor.

Jerry D. Jones (“Plaintiff”) and his then-wife Sharron Shores, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy on September 30, 2009. (Doc. 44, Ex. 2E).[1] Plaintiff’s bankruptcy plan was amended more than once. On one such occasion, Plaintiff’s bankruptcy plan was amended to add a pending worker’s compensation claim of Shores’s. (Doc. 44, Ex. 2H, Ex. 2I). On November 27, 2012, Plaintiff filed an EEOC/MHRC Charge of Discrimination against Defendants. (Doc. 44, Ex. 2C). On July 3, 2014, Plaintiff’s bankruptcy was discharged. (Doc. 44, Ex. 2M). Plaintiff did not repay all of his creditors in his bankruptcy proceeding. The bankruptcy court discharged $146, 499.56 in unsecured claims. (Doc. 55-1).

On August 16, 2013, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against defendants alleging race and sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e; the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d); 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and §1983, and Missouri statute § 213.055. Plaintiff did not list his EEOC/MHRC Charge of Discrimination (“the Charge”) or this lawsuit in his bankruptcy filings. (Doc. 44, Ex. 2E). Plaintiff never disclosed the Charge or this lawsuit to the bankruptcy court, nor did he amend his bankruptcy filings to reflect the Charge or this lawsuit.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

A moving party is entitled to summary judgment on a claim only if there is a showing that “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” See generally Williams v. City of St. Louis, 783 F.2d 114, 115 (8th Cir. 2986). “[W]hile the materiality determination rests on the substantive law, it is the substantive law’s identification of which facts are critical and which facts are irrelevant that governs.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Thus, “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Wierman v. Casey’s Gen. Stores, 638 F.3d 984, 993 (8th Cir. 2011) (quotation omitted). In applying this standard, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, giving that party the benefit of all inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588-89 (1986); Tyler v. Harper, 744 F.2d 653, 655 (8th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1057 (1985). However, a party opposing a motion for summary judgment “may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the…pleadings, but…by affidavits or as otherwise provided in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

B. Judicial Estoppel

Defendants argue Plaintiff’s claims should be judicially estopped, because Plaintiff failed to disclose these claims in bankruptcy proceedings. “The doctrine of judicial estoppel protects the integrity of the judicial process.” Stallings v. Hussman Corp., 447 F.3d 1041, 1047 (8th Cir. 2006) (citations and quotations omitted).

In determining whether judicial estoppel should be applied, courts consider the factors set forth in New Hampshire v. Maine: (1) whether the positions a party took in the two proceedings are inconsistent, (2) whether either court has accepted the position in such a manner that either the first or second court would appear to have been misled, and (3) whether the party asserting inconsistent positions would derive an unfair advantage or impose an unfair detriment. 532 U.S. 742, 750-51 (2001). The third factor is not satisfied if a party’s actions were inadvertent or a good faith mistake. Id. at 753.

1. First Factor

The Court must determine whether Plaintiff’s position in this Court is inconsistent with the earlier position Plaintiff took in bankruptcy court. The Bankruptcy Code requires a debtor to file a schedule of assets and liabilities. 11 U.S.C. § 521(a)(1). Bankruptcy estate property “includes property acquired during the pendency” of the bankruptcy case. Education Assistance Corp. v. Zellner, 827 F.2d 1222, 1224 (8th Cir. 2001); see 11 U.S.C. § 1306(a)(1). “A debtor’s failure to list a claim in the mandatory ...


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