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In the practice of law, judicial estoppel (also known as estoppel by inconsistent positions) is an estoppel which precludes a party from taking a position in a case which is contrary to a position they have taken in earlier legal proceedings. Although, in the United Statesmarker, it is only a part of common law and therefore not sharply defined, it is generally agreed that it can only be cited if the party in question successfully maintained its position in the earlier proceedings and benefited from it.


Judicial estoppel is a doctrine which may be applied in matters involving closed bankruptcies wherein the former debtor attempts to lay claim to an asset which was not disclosed on the bankruptcy schedules.


United States Supreme Court in First National Bank v. Laseter, 196U.S. 115, 11925 S. Ct. 206, 49 L.Ed. 408 (1905), which held at 119:it cannot be that a bankrupt, by admitting to schedule andwithholding from his trustee all knowledge of certainproperty, can, after his estate and bankruptcy has been finallybeen closed up, immediately thereafter assert title to theproperty on the ground that the trustee had never taken anyaction in respect to it. If the claim was of value it wassomething to which the creditors were entitled, and thisbankrupt could not, by withholding knowledge of itsexistence, obtain a release from his debts and still assert titleto the property.

See also Sierra Switchboard Co. v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 789 F.2d 705 (9th Cir. 1986).

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