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Failure to List Tort Claim on Bankruptcy Petition Precludes Tort Proceedings
Description Georgia high court upheld the dismissal of a tort claim filed by a party in bankruptcy against a person involved in an auto accident with them. Since the tort claim was an asset of the estate, and it was not revealed in the listing of assets, the bankrupt party is estopped from pursuing the tort claim as that would be manipulation of the court system.
Topic Bankruptcy
Key Words Assets; Tort Claims; Judicial Estoppel
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Wolfork filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in 1994. In 1995 she suffered injuries in a car accident involving Tackett. In 1997, Wolfork sued Tackett for negligence. In 1998, Wolfork was discharged from bankruptcy. Tackett moved for summary judgment on Wolfork's tort claim on grounds of judicial estoppel because Wolfork had not supplemented her bankruptcy petition to list the tort claim against Tackett as an asset of the estate. The trial court dismissed Wolfork's suit against Tackett. The appeals court affirmed. Wolfork appealed.
Decision Affirmed. Wolfork's failure to list her tort claim, during her Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as an asset of her estate, judicially estopped her from pursuing the tort claim in court. The doctrine of judicial estoppel precludes a party from asserting a position in a judicial proceeding, which is inconsistent with a position previously asserted by it in a prior proceeding. It is commonly applied to preclude a bankruptcy debtor from pursuing a damages claim that she or he failed to include in her assets in the bankruptcy petition. When in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, petitioner must disclose all property, including tort claims, prior to discharge.
Citation Wolfork v. Tackett, 2001 WL 32684 (Sup. Ct., Ga., 2001)

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