United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
WHITEHURST MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE
the Court are two unopposed Motions for Summary Judgment
(Record Documents 50 and 52) filed on behalf of Defendants
the Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government
(“LCG”) and the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's
Office (“LPSO”), through its Sheriff, Mark A.
Garber, in his individual and official capacity, and LPSO
Officers yet to be named, in their individual and official
capacities (hereinafter collectively referred to as
“the Defendants”). The Defendants seek dismissal of
the claims of Plaintiff Thomas Joseph Culotta, II
(“Culotta”) on the ground of judicial estoppel.
See id. For the reasons which follow, the Motions
for Summary Judgment are GRANTED based on
the doctrine of judicial estoppel without prejudice to the
rights of a Chapter 7 trustee to pursue the claims if
Culotta's bankruptcy case is reopened and converted to a
Chapter 7 liquidation within a reasonable period of time.
filed this action on January 20, 2017, asserting claims under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of, inter alia,
the Fourth Amendment (based upon his allegedly unlawful
arrest and detention) and the Fourteenth Amendment (based
upon his conditions of confinement while detained) arising
from an incident that occurred on January 21,
2016.See Record Document 50-3 at
¶8. He alleges that he was physically injured as a
result of a forcible arrest, that his reputation has been
damaged, and that he has lost business and business
opportunities because he was falsely arrested.
filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy on August 30, 2016. See
id. at ¶5. His original Chapter 13 plan was
confirmed on February 13, 2017, and on May 23, 2017, the
Bankruptcy Court issued a final decree in the case,
discharging Culotta's debts. See Id. at
¶¶9-11. Culotta never disclosed the existence of
this lawsuit to the Bankruptcy Court. See id. at
¶12. As part of his initial bankruptcy filing, he
completed Official Form 1065 and responded in the negative to
an inquiry of whether he had “any claims against third
parties, whether or not you have filed a lawsuit or made a
demand for payment. Examples: accidents, employment disputes,
insurance claims or rights to sue.” Id. at
¶¶ 6-7. At no time between the initial bankruptcy
petition and the final decree did Culotta amend, modify or
supplement his bankruptcy filings or schedules to inform the
Bankruptcy Court or his creditors of his claims. See
id. at ¶12.
Summary Judgment Standard.
judgment is proper pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure when “there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” Quality Infusion Care, Inc. v.
Health Care Serv. Corp., 628 F.3d 725, 728 (5th Cir.
2010). “Rule 56[(a)] mandates the entry of
summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon
motion, against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553 (1986).
party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at
323, 106 S.Ct. at 2553 (internal quotations omitted). If the
moving party fails to meet this initial burden, the motion
must be denied, regardless of the nonmovant's response.
See Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954
movant demonstrates the absence of a genuine dispute of
material fact, “the nonmovant must go beyond the
pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is
a genuine [dispute] for trial.” Gen. Universal
Sys., Inc. v. Lee, 379 F.3d 131, 141 (5th Cir. 2004).
Where critical evidence is so weak or tenuous on an essential
fact that it could not support a judgment in favor of the
nonmovant, then summary judgment should be granted. See
Boudreaux v. Swift Transp. Co., 402 F.3d 536, 540 (5th
Cir. 2005). Where the parties dispute the facts, the Court
must view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378, 127 S.Ct. 1769 (2007). In
sum, the motion for summary judgment “should be granted
so long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates
that the standard for the entry of summary judgment, as set
forth in Rule 56(c), is satisfied.” Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2553.
Local Rule 56.1 requires the moving party to file a statement
of material facts as to which it contends there is no genuine
issue to be tried. All material facts set forth in the
statement required to be served by the moving party
“will be deemed admitted, for purposes of the motion,
unless controverted as required by this rule.” Local
present matter, Culotta has not filed an opposition to the
Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment. On April 27 and
May 1 of 2018, this Court issued two separate “Notice
Of Motion Setting” documents (Record Documents 51 and
53) giving Culotta fourteen calendar days to file an
opposition. To date, no opposition has been filed. Thus, all
of the material facts set forth by the Defendants have not
been controverted and are hereby deemed
admitted. See Record Document 50-3.