"(a) Judicial estoppel is a doctrine distinct from the res judicata doctrines of claim and issue preclusion. Under the judicial estoppel doctrine, where a party assumes a certain position in a legal proceeding, and succeeds in maintaining that position, he may not thereafter, simply because his interests have changed, assume a contrary position, especially if it be to the prejudice of the party who has acquiesced in the position formerly taken by him. Davis v. Wakelee, 156 U.S. 680, 689. The purpose of the doctrine is to protect the integrity of the judicial process by prohibiting parties from deliberately changing positions according to the exigencies of the moment. Courts have recognized that the circumstances under which judicial estoppel may appropriately be invoked are not reducible to any general formulation. Nevertheless, several factors typically inform the decision whether to apply the doctrine in a particular case:
First, a party's later position must be clearly inconsistent with its earlier position.
Second, courts regularly inquire whether the party has succeeded in persuading a court to accept that party's earlier position, so that judicial acceptance of an inconsistent position in a later proceeding would create the perception that either the first or the second court was misled.
Third, courts ask whether the party seeking to assert an inconsistent position would derive an unfair advantage or impose an unfair detriment on the opposing party if not estopped.
In enumerating these factors, this Court does not establish inflexible prerequisites or an exhaustive formula for determining the applicability of judicial estoppel. Additional considerations may inform the doctrine's application in specific factual contexts. Pp. 749-751."