Norton v. Assisted Living Concepts, Inc.
MEMORANDUM REJECTING NORTON'S QUASI ESTOPPEL ARGUMENT. Signed by Judge Richard A. Schell on 5/17/2011. (baf, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
MICHAEL J. NORTON
ASSISTED LIVING CONCEPTS, INC.
Case No. 4:10-cv-00091
MEMORANDUM REJECTING NORTON’S QUASI ESTOPPEL ARGUMENT
On May 16, 2011, the court received a communication from Norton regarding the court’s
May 13, 2011 “Memorandum Opinion and Order on Pending Motions” (Dkt. 65). In particular,
Norton’s communication concerns the court’s denial of his “Motion for Summary Judgment on
ALC’s Counterclaim for Conversion” (Dkt. 34). See Dkt. 65, pg. 9-10. Norton points out that the
court’s denial of his motion did not address his argument that ALC’s counterclaim is barred by
the doctrine of quasi estoppel. The court acknowledges that its order did not address that
argument of Norton’s and, therefore, it will do so here.
Norton did not make the quasi estoppel argument in his original motion for summary
judgment on the counterclaim (Dkt. 34). Rather, Norton raised the argument in an unopposed
supplement to the motion (Dkt. 38-6), which on March 8, 2011, the court granted him leave to
file (Dkt. 55). In the supplement, Norton argued that because ALC’s “Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment” (Dkt. 37) included as supporting evidence the document that is the basis for
its counterclaim for conversion (Dkt. 24), ALC should be estopped from maintaining the
counterclaim. As stated above, the legal basis for Norton’s contention is the affirmative defense
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known as quasi-estoppel. “Quasi-estoppel precludes a party from asserting, to another's
disadvantage, a right inconsistent with a position previously taken.” Lopez v. Munoz, Hockema &
Reed, L.L.P., 22 S.W.3d 857, 864 (Tex. 2000) (citation omitted). “The doctrine applies when it
would be unconscionable to allow a person to maintain a position inconsistent with one to which
he acquiesced, or from which he accepted a benefit.” Id. (citation omitted). ALC did not respond
to Norton’s quasi estoppel argument.
The court finds that Norton has not carried his burden to show that the doctrine of quasi
estoppel bars ALC’s counterclaim. The court first notes that Norton, without citing any legal
authority, is urging the court to inversely apply the quasi estoppel doctrine, i.e. he is urging the
court to bar a previously asserted right because of an allegedly inconsistent position taken later.
See Lopez, 22 S.W.3d at 864. But more importantly, Norton has not convinced the court that
ALC’s reliance on the allegedly converted document for its motion for partial summary judgment
is inconsistent with its previously filed counterclaim for conversion. In other words, Norton has
not shown how ALC’s subsequent decision to put the document in the public domain makes it
impossible for Norton to have converted it at an earlier date. If, as alleged, the document was at
one point the confidential property of ALC’s and Norton wrongfully took it, ALC’s subsequent
decision to make the document public would seem irrelevant. For these reasons, the court’s
denial of Norton’s motion for summary judgment on ALC’s counterclaim will stand.
SIGNED this the 17th day of May, 2011.
RICHARD A. SCHELL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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