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11th Cir. – Unpublished – Sham Affidavit Rule

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  • 11th Cir. – Unpublished – Sham Affidavit Rule

    Here’s a new case out of the Eleventh Circuit, Robert Liebman v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Liebman worked for MetLife for 27 years and then was terminated. Liebman brought suit alleging that MetLife terminated him with the intent of depriving him of his retirement and health insurance benefits pursuant to ERISA. During the plaintiff’s deposition, he stated that he could not point to any direct facts that lead him to his conclusion about his pension. However, in response to MetLife’s motion for summary judgment, Liebman submitted an affidavit providing facts which were not mentioned in the deposition. The District Court, applying the sham affidavit rule, struck his introduction of facts contrary to his deposition testimony. This appeal ensued. The court holds:

    Contrary to Liebman’s assertion, the district court applied the correct standard. To disregard an affidavit under the sham affidavit rule, “our cases require a court to find some inherent inconsistency between an affidavit and a deposition.” Rollins v. TechSouth, Inc., 833 F.2d 1525, 1530 (11th Cir. 1987). The district court correctly found that during his deposition, Liebman did not mention Adkins’s speech or his other expressions of jealousy over Liebman’s pension. In fact, Liebman testified that the only fact supporting his claim that MetLife fired him because of his benefits was that his firing meant he would not receive those benefits. The court also found that paragraphs 30 and 31 of Liebman’s declaration raised a factual dispute that was directly contrary to Liebman’s deposition testimony. Liebman gave no explanation for the inconsistency. Under this Court’s precedent, “[w]hen a party has given clear answers to unambiguous questions which negate the existence of any genuine issue of material fact, that party cannot thereafter create such an issue with an affidavit that merely contradicts, without explanation, previously given clear testimony.” Van T. Junkins & Assocs. v. U.S. Indus., Inc., 736 F.2d 656, 657 (11th Cir. 1984). On this record, the district court therefore did not abuse its discretion in striking paragraphs 30 and 31 from Liebman’s declaration. See Furcron, 843 F.3d at 1306–07.
    The opinion is attached below.
    Attached Files