United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
RICK S. PAUL, Plaintiff,
HEWLETT PACKARD ENTERPRISE CO., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS (DKT. 18)
TERRENCE G. BERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
age-discrimination case, Plaintiff Rick Paul is suing his
former employer, Defendant Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.
says that Plaintiff is barred from filing this lawsuit under
the doctrine of judicial estoppel because, prior to filing
this lawsuit, Plaintiff failed to disclose his
age-discrimination claims in his bankruptcy case. Defendant
has therefore moved for judgment on the pleadings, and in the
alternative for summary judgment, and Plaintiff has opposed
the motion. For the reasons outlined below, Defendant's
motion is DENIED.
began working for Defendant in 2006. Dkt. 18, Pg. ID 86. In
June of 2012, Plaintiff filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in
the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District
of Michigan. Dkt. 18, Pg. IDs 86-88. Plaintiff was required
to list all personal property assets, including "[o]ther
contingent claims of every nature" in Schedule B of his
Chapter 13 Plan. Dkt. 18, Pg. ID 86; Dkt. 18-4, Pg. ID 136.
With the assistance of his bankruptcy counsel, William
Calunas, Plaintiff amended Schedules D, F, I, and J on five
occasions between July 2012 and March 2013. Dkt. 18, Pg. ID
August of 2014, Plaintiff was told he was being removed from
his position with Defendant and that he should apply for
other openings within the company. Dkt. 21-1, Pg. ID 339. In
early January 2015, Plaintiff made an internal complaint of
age discrimination. Plaintiff was terminated on January 23,
2015. Id. at Pg. ID 340.
notified his bankruptcy counsel on January 26, 2015 that he
was going to file a complaint with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission, which he did on the following day.
Id; Dkt. 18, Pg. ID 89. Plaintiff informed his
bankruptcy counsel in August 2015 that mediation of the EEOC
claim was futile and that the next step would be filing a
lawsuit in federal court. Dkt. 21-1, Pg. ID 340. The EEOC
issued a right to sue letter on March 2, 2016. Dkt. 1, Pg. ID
5. The complaint in this case was filed on May 31, 2016. Dkt.
1. Plaintiff states that he informed his bankruptcy counsel
of the fact that the federal lawsuit was filed in July 2016.
Dkt. 21-1, Pg. ID 340.
states that he was unaware that he needed to amend his
bankruptcy schedules to reflect the fact that he had made a
claim for damages, that he relied on his bankruptcy counsel
to advise him of such an obligation, and that if he had been
so advised, he would have instructed his counsel to amend the
schedules. Id. at Pg. ID 341. Prior to filing this
lawsuit, however, Plaintiff had not amended Schedule B of his
plan to reflect his age-discrimination claim as one of his
assets as required by 11 U.S.C. § 521(a)(1)(B).
January 13, 2017, Defendant filed this motion for judgment on
the pleadings, which sought to have Plaintiffs complaint
dismissed on judicial estoppel grounds because Plaintiff had
not disclosed this claim to the bankruptcy court. Dkt. 18.
After learning of his obligation to amend his schedules,
Plaintiff discharged his former bankruptcy counsel and
instructed new counsel to correct his schedules. Dkt. 21-1,
Pg ID 341. The amended schedules reflecting this claim were
filed on March 28, 2017. Dkt. 31-4, Pg. ID 1, 680.
motion for judgment on the pleadings, and in the alternative
for summary judgment is now before the Court. Dkt. 18.
Plaintiff opposes the motion. Dkt. 21.
considered the Parties' arguments, the Court concludes
that oral argument would not help the Court resolve
Defendant's motion. Thus, the Court will decide the
motion based on the Parties' written submissions.
See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f).
Standard of Review
Parties dispute under which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
the Court should review Defendant's motion. Defendant
argues that because it relies solely on the pleadings, EEOC
documents referenced in Plaintiffs complaint, and Plaintiffs
bankruptcy pleadings (which are matters of public record),
the Court should decide the motion using Rule 12(c) (which
relates to judgment on the pleadings). Dkt. 18, Pg. ID 91. In
response, Plaintiff submits that the appropriate standard of
review is that of Rule 56 (which relates to summary
judgment). Dkt. 21, Pg. ID 329. To resolve Defendant's
motion, the Court need only consider matters of public
record, so the Court will not convert Defendant's motion
into one for summary judgment. See JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A. v. Winget,510 F.3d 577, 581 (6th Cir. 2007)
(stating that courts use the same standard of review for
motions brought pursuant to Rule 12(c) as they do for motions
brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)); New England Health
Care Employees Pension Fund v. Ernst & Young, ...