Equity [Estoppel and Waiver]: Judicial Estoppel

Johnson v. Liberty Northwest [02/07/07] 2007 MTWCC 7 It is not inconsistent for a petitioner to bring a claim in the alternative against two employers, settle with one on a disputed liability basis, and then proceed against the other. Having settled on a disputed liability basis, the settlement is, by definition, uncertain or undetermined as it pertains to the other employer/insurer. Therefore, judicial estoppel does not apply.
Johnson v. Liberty Northwest [02/07/07] 2007 MTWCC 7 Liberty argues that like the claimant’s inconsistent position in Birch v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co., 1995 MTWCC 18, Petitioner’s settlement with Stimson may create facts supporting a judicial estoppel argument if the settlement was for a substantial sum. However, the inconsistent positions taken by the claimant in Birch were that she maintained she was an independent contractor for purposes of her tort action and then alleged she was an employee for purposes of her workers’ compensation claim. The Court’s comment on the size of her District Court settlement was merely in response to the claimant’s argument that she was not successful in maintaining her District Court action and only settled for “nuisance value.”

Clemons v. Liberty Northwest [04/20/06] 2006 MTWCC 16 A party claiming judicial estoppel must show: (1) the estopped party had knowledge of the facts at the time he or she took the original position; (2) the estopped party succeeded in maintaining the original position; (3) the position presently taken is inconsistent with the original position; and (4) the original position misled the adverse party so that allowing the estopped party to change its position would injuriously affect the adverse party. The Court previously addressed arguments similar to Respondent’s in Fleming, Young, and Schull and found that the elements of judicial estoppel were not met. The Court sees no appreciable distinction in the present case.

Fleming v. International Paper [07/08/05] 2005 MTWCC 34 Where a claimant may have been exposed to multiple sources of asbestos, some or all of which may have contributed to his asbestos-related disease, he is not judicially estopped from pursuing a petition for occupational disease benefits even though he is pursuing a district court action against non-employers allegedly responsible for some of his exposure. The Rules of Civil Procedure permit a party to join multiple defendants who are potentially liable for his injuries and to pursue his action in the alternative. Since the Workers’ Compensation Court has exclusive jurisdiction over occupational disease claims, a claimant of necessity may be required to file both a district court action and a Workers’ Compensation Court petition to achieve the same end.
Fleming v. International Paper [07/08/05] 2005 MTWCC 34 To judicially estop a party, four elements must typically be met. Those elements are: (1) the estopped party had knowledge of the facts at the time he or she took the original position; (2) the estopped party succeeded in maintaining the original position; (3) the position presently taken is inconsistent with the original position; and (4) the original position misled the adverse party so that allowing the estopped party to change its position would injuriously affect the adverse party.
Beaulieu v. Human Dynamics Corp. [8/10/04] 2004 MTWCC 58 Where in two prior cases involving the claimant, the respondent party has represented in pleadings and motions that it provided workers' compensation coverage for claimant and was paying him benefits, it is judicially estopped from now denying that it is an insurer.
Edmunds v. Liberty Northwest Ins. [2/19/04] 2004 MTWCC 11 The doctrine of judicial estoppel applies only to representations and positions taken in judicial proceedings.
Edmunds v. Liberty Northwest Ins. [2/19/04] 2004 MTWCC 11 The doctrine of judicial estoppel applies only to inconsistent representations and positions in judicial proceedings.
Birch v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co. [3/2/98] 1998 MTWCC 18 The doctrine of judicial estoppel precludes petitioner from asserting she is was an employee when injured in a workers' compensation proceeding where she sued the alleged employer for negligence, successfully resisted a motion for summary judgment by stating under oath that she was an independent contractor, not an employee, and recovered $60,000 in settlement of her tort claim.
O'Brien v. State Fund [2/10/98] 1998 MTWCC 6 In a motion for summary judgment, the insurer waived any right to claim subrogation in claimant's third-party recovery. When such a waiver is made in a judicial proceeding, the insurer is judicially estopped from asserting any subrogation right in a future proceeding. See, Fiedler v. Fiedler, 266 Mont. 133, 139, 879 P.2d 675, 679 (1994).