Aldous v. Darwin National Assurance Co., No. 16-10537 (5th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The district court granted summary judgment to Darwin, concluding that plaintiff was judicially estopped from claiming defense costs in excess of $668,068.38. The district court further found that Darwin was entitled to recover "overpayments" on an equitable "money had and received" theory. Both parties appealed. The court concluded, after thorough review, that plaintiff never took the position that her defense costs in the underlying suit were limited to $668,068.31 and that the prior court never accepted such a position. Therefore, the district court's contrary determination represented an abuse of discretion and the application of judicial estoppel was inappropriate. The court further concluded that summary judgment should not have been granted against plaintiff on the breach of contract claim where the district court relied in part on the judicial estoppel ruling; the proper measure of covered defense costs remains an unsettled question of fact and plaintiff was not entitled to a declaratory judgment; and the court rejected plaintiff's remaining claims. In light of the court's judicial estoppel ruling, the court concluded that the district court's grant of summary judgment on Darwin's claim for money had and received cannot stand. Finally, the court rejected Darwin's breach of contract claim. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on May 11, 2018.