Rosenthal Law Group is pleased to announce that it has prevailed before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in an En Banc proceeding in the case of United States of America v. Estelle Stein. In an En Banc opinion issued January 31, 2018, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the case of Mays v United States of America which had previously held that a taxpayer cannot overcome the government’s presumption of correctness in a summary judgment proceeding merely by filing a self-serving uncorroborated affidavit in opposition.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held in Stein that Mays was incorrectly decided and that:
We overrule Mays to the extent it holds or suggests that self-serving and uncorroborated statements in a taxpayer’s affidavit cannot create an issue of material fact with respect to the correctness of the government’s assessments. Nothing in Rule 56 prohibits an otherwise admissible affidavit from being self- serving. And if there is any corroboration requirement for an affidavit, it must come from a source other than Rule 56.
The 11th Circuit held that the rules of summary judgment apply the same to all litigants and all cases, and tax cases do not receive special treatment. The Court held that “[w]e see no basis for imposing a corroboration gloss on Rule 56 … and reaffirm that “even in the absence of collaborative evidence, a plaintiff’s own testimony may be sufficient to withstand summary judgment.” The Court went on to hold that “[i]f corroboration is needed, then that requirement must come from a source other than Rule 56, such as the substantive law that governs the parties’ dispute or the Federal Rules of Evidence.
The impact of this ruling will be far reaching in this Circuit and, perhaps, others. Other than a single panel opinion in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Stein case is believed to be the only Federal Circuit Court opinion which has held that a taxpayer can defeat summary judgment by filing an otherwise admissible self-serving uncorroborated affidavit.
The appeal was handled by Alex Rosenthal and Amanda Jones. Alex Rosenthal argued the case before the En Banc panel in Atlanta, GA on October 10, 2017.
Rosenthal Law Group handles all types of commercial litigation and appeals and is available to discuss your matter with you. Please contact us at (954) 384-9200.