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Kumar v. Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

January 16, 2018

MOHIT KUMAR, Plaintiff,
v.
TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES LIMITED, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magntts-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Tata Consultancy Services Limited's (“Tata”) Motion to Dismiss Complaint, or, in the Alternative, for Judicial Estoppel (“Motion to Dismiss”), [Filing No. 10], as well as its Motion to Strike, [Filing No. 23]. Tata argues that Plaintiff Mohit Kumar filed this action after the discharge of his personal debt in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, despite being aware of the legal claims at the time he filed for bankruptcy. Tata argues that the Bankruptcy Court has not formally closed Mr. Kumar's case, which means Kumar lacks standing to bring the legal claims, as they are still property of the bankruptcy estate. Tata argues in the alternative that Mr. Kumar should be judicially estopped from pursuing these claims because he purposefully withheld his claims from the bankruptcy estate. Finally, Tata moves to strike Mr. Kumar's Response to Defendant's Reply. [Filing No. 22.] For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies both of Tata's motions.

         I.

         Standard of Review

         Tata moves the Court to dismiss Mr. Kumar's Complaint, [Filing No. 1], pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3), which states, “If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.” A party may assert lack of subject-matter jurisdiction in a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), which Tata has done here. “Motions to dismiss under 12(b)(1) are meant to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits of the case.” Ctr. for Dermatology & Skin Cancer, Ltd. v. Burwell, 770 F.3d 586, 588 (7th Cir. 2014). “In the context of a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, we accept as true the well pleaded factual allegations, drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Iddir v. INS, 301 F.3d 492, 496 (7th Cir. 2002). “[A] plaintiff faced with a 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss bears the burden of establishing that the jurisdictional requirements have been met.” Burwell, 770 F.3d at 588-89.

         II.

         Background

         On February 1, 2016, Mr. Kumar filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against Tata, his former employer. [Filing No. 1-1.] Mr. Kumar alleged that Tata discriminated against him because of his national origin and retaliated against him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. [Filing No. 1-1 at 2.]

         On January 25, 2017, Mr. Kumar filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana (“Bankruptcy Petition”).[1] [In re Mohamit Kumar, 17-00397-JJG-7 (Bankr. S.D. Ind.) (“In re Kumar”), Dkt. No. 1.] Under the “Property” section of the Bankruptcy Petition, Mr. Kumar checked “No” for Item Number 33, which asks, “Do you own or have any legal or equitable interest in … [c]laims 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[.]” [In re Kumar, Dkt. No. 1 at 10, 13.]

         The EEOC dismissed Mr. Kumar's Charge of Discrimination and issued him a Right to Sue Letter on February 10, 2017. [Filing No. 1-2.] Mr. Kumar did not amend his Bankruptcy Petition to include the Right to Sue Letter.

         On April 25, 2017, the Bankruptcy Court entered an Order of Discharge and closed Mr. Kumar's bankruptcy proceedings. [In re Kumar, Dkt. No. 12.]

         On May 8, 2017, Mr. Kumar filed the instant Complaint pro se, reiterating the allegations set forth in the EEOC Charge of Discrimination and requesting damages in the amount of $100, 000, 000.00 [Filing No. 1.]

         On September 18, 2017, Tata filed its Motion to Dismiss, asserting that Mr. Kumar lacked standing to bring his claims because they were property of the bankruptcy estate. [Filing No. 10.]

         On October 9, 2017, Mr. Kumar, by counsel, filed a Motion of Debtor to Reopen Case (“Motion to Reopen”). [In re Kumar, Dkt. No. 15.] In the Motion to Reopen, Mr. Kumar claimed that his failure to disclose his legal claims was “due to [Mr. Kumar's] belief that a valid claim did not exist at the time.” [In re Kumar, Dkt. No. 15 at 1.] He further stated that, following a conversation with an employment discrimination attorney, Mr. Kumar “was advised that he should have reported the claim either at the time the case was filed or afterwards at the point he realized a valid pre-petition claim existed. [Mr. Kumar] did not understand these responsibilities beforehand.” [In re Kumar, Dkt. No. 15 at 1-2.] The Motion to Reopen also stated that the trustee had been notified and wished to speak with the attorneys involved in the matter to ascertain the value of Mr. Kumar's discrimination claims. [In ...


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