Judicial Estoppel

Wells Fargo Bank N.A. v Webster Bus. Credit Corp., 2014 NY Slip Op 00412 [1st Dept. 2014]

Contrary to defendant's argument, plaintiffs' previous assertion of their own claim for contractual indemnification does not judicially estop them from denying that defendant is entitled to indemnification of attorneys' fees under the agreement. The doctrine of judicial estoppel " precludes a party who assumed a certain position in a prior legal proceeding and who secured a judgment in his or her favor from assuming a contrary position in another action simply because his or her interests have changed'" (Jones Lang Wootton USA v LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, 243 AD2d 168, 176 [1st Dept 1998], lv dismissed 92 NY2d 962 [1998] [quoting Ford Motor Credit Co. v Colonial Funding Corp., 215 AD2d 435, 436 [2d Dept 1995]). As plaintiffs did not prevail on their contractual indemnification claim, the doctrine of judicial estoppel does not apply (see Kvest LLC v Cohen, 86 AD3d 481, 482 [1st Dept 2011]; Gale P. Elston, P.C. v Dubois, 18 AD3d 301, 303 [1st Dept 2005]).

Nor does plaintiffs' prior claim for contractual indemnification, standing alone, constitute a "judicial admission" that attorneys' fees are recoverable in inter-party disputes. On the contrary, plaintiffs' former construction of the agreement was a legal argument, and not a "fact" amenable to treatment as a "formal judicial admission" (GJF Constr., Inc. v Sirius Am. Ins. Co., 89 AD3d 622, 626 [1st Dept 2011]).

Emphasis is mine (the bolded portion only) (italics in original).

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