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Reutov v. Future Motion, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 6, 2020

MAXIM REUTOV, Plaintiff,


          M. Page Kelley, United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Introduction.

         Maxim Reutov, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint against Future Motion, Inc., on March 8, 2019, alleging that he was injured in June 2018 while riding a battery-operated skateboard manufactured by defendant. (#1; #44-1 at 2-3.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on June 21, 2019, alleging claims for breach of implied warranty of merchantability, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of express warranty, breach of warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, strict products liability, and misrepresentation. (#44; #44-1 at 1, 3-6.) He sought over $10 million in damages. Id. at 7-8. On October 4, 2018, after his accident, but before he filed his claim here, plaintiff filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. (#84-1 at 7-13.) His debts were discharged and his bankruptcy case was closed on February 1, 2019, one month before he filed suit in this matter. (#1; #84 at 1.)

         On October 16, 2019, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment based on the doctrine of judicial estoppel, as plaintiff did not disclose his potential lawsuit when he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or at any time during the proceedings. (#84 at 1.)[2] Plaintiff filed multiple oppositions, each addressing discrete points. (##86-91.)

         II. Facts.

         For purposes of summary judgment, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to plaintiff as the non-moving party. Caraballo-Caraballo v. Corr. Admin., 892 F.3d 53, 56 (1st Cir. 2018) (citation omitted). The facts below are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.

         In April or May of 2018, plaintiff purchased a “OneWheel, ” a battery-operated skateboard, manufactured by defendant. (#44-1 at 2; #87-4 at 9.) Plaintiff alleges that on June 18, 2018, he was riding his board on a bike path when it unexpectedly shut off, throwing him into the air. (#44-1 at 2-3.) Plaintiff landed on his head and shoulder, causing a concussion and shoulder injuries, and requiring a visit to the emergency room. Id. at 3. Plaintiff maintains that he suffers from constant back and neck pain, memory issues, and headaches as a result of the incident. Id. at 6.

         Plaintiff emailed defendant's customer support team the day after the incident, informing them about what had occurred. (#87-1 at 1.) Several months later, on September 29, 2018, plaintiff emailed defendant's customer support team again, stating that he had “an issue” with the board. Id. at 4. On October 7, 2018, after conducting various tests at defendant's instruction, plaintiff sent the board back to defendant, so defendant could determine what was wrong with the board, and repair it, if necessary. Id. at 6-7. From October 7, 2018 through November 7, 2018, plaintiff and a member of defendant's customer support team corresponded regularly via email regarding the board's status. Id. at 6-15.[3] In an October 30th email, plaintiff referenced the subject accident, noting that “the board shut off . . . when [he] was riding it and sent [him] to an emergency room[.]” Id. at 9.

         Around the same time plaintiff was corresponding with defendant's customer support team, he was involved in bankruptcy proceedings in this district. On October 4, 2018, plaintiff filed for voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy. (#84-1 at 7-54.) As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, plaintiff was required to complete and sign a schedule, summarizing all his assets and liabilities. Id. at 14- 21. Under part four of the schedule, “Financial Assets, ” plaintiff was instructed to “[d]escribe” any claim he had “against third parties, whether or not [he had] filed a lawsuit or made a demand for payment.” Id. at 17, 20 ¶ 33. The schedule described “[a]ccidents, employment disputes, insurance claims, [and] rights to sue” as specific examples of claims that should be listed. Id. at 20 ¶ 33 (emphasis added). Despite his accident and ongoing correspondence with defendant's customer support team, plaintiff failed to reference the accident in his schedule. Id. The bankruptcy court entered a discharge order on January 15, 2019, and plaintiff's bankruptcy case was closed on February 1, 2019. Id. at 56-61. He filed his complaint in this court about one month later. (#1.)

         For the reasons set out below, because plaintiff failed to disclose his potential claim against Future Motion, Inc. in his bankruptcy proceedings, defendant's motion for summary judgment (#83) is granted.

         III. Standard of Review.

         Summary judgment will be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party bears the initial burden of averring the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and “support[ing] that assertion by affidavits, admissions, or other materials of evidentiary quality.” Mulvihill v. Top-Flite Golf Co., 335 F.3d 15, 19 (1st Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). Once the moving party asserts the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmovant must demonstrate the existence of a factual dispute with requisite sufficiency to proceed to trial. Fontánez-Núñez v. Janssen Ortho LLC, 447 F.3d 50, 54-55 (1st Cir. 2006). “[I]mprobable inferences, conclusory allegations, or rank speculation” cannot alone defeat summary judgment. Ingram v. Brink's, Inc., 414 F.3d 222, 229 (1st Cir. 2005).

         In determining whether summary judgment is proper, courts view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the nonmovant's favor. Caraballo-Caraballo, 892 F.3d at 56 (citations omitted). Upon a party's motion, Rule 56 requires the entry of summary judgment when the non-moving party fails to establish the existence of any one essential element on which he will bear the final burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find ...

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