summary judgment

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Summary Judgment

A procedural device used during civil litigation to promptly and expeditiously dispose of a case without a trial. It is used when there is no dispute as to the material facts of the case and a party is entitled to judgment as a Matter of Law.

Any party may move for summary judgment; it is not uncommon for both parties to seek it. A judge may also determine on her own initiative that summary judgment is appropriate. Unlike with pretrial motions to dismiss, information such as affidavits, interrogatories, depositions, and admissions may be considered on a motion for summary judgment. Any evidence that would be admissible at trial under the rules of evidence may support a motion for summary judgment. Usually a court will hold oral arguments on a summary judgment motion, although it may decide the motion on the parties' briefs and supporting documentation alone.

The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials. It may also simplify a trial, as when partial summary judgment dispenses with certain issues or claims. For example, a court might grant partial summary judgment in a personal injury case on the issue of liability. A trial would still be necessary to determine the amount of damages.

Two criteria must be met before summary judgment may be properly granted: (1) there must be no genuine issues of material fact, and (2) the Movant must be entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A genuine issue implies that certain facts are disputed. Usually a party opposing summary judgment must introduce evidence that contradicts the moving party's version of the facts. Moreover, the facts in dispute must be central to the case; irrelevant or minor factual disputes will not defeat a motion for summary judgment. Finally, the law as applied to the undisputed facts of the case must mandate judgment for the moving party. Summary judgment does not mean that a judge decides which side would prevail at trial, nor does a judge determine the credibility of witnesses. Rather, it is used when no factual questions exist for a judge or jury to decide.

The moving party has the initial burden to show that summary judgment is proper even if the moving party would not have the Burden of Proof at trial. The court generally examines the evidence presented with the motion in the light most favorable to the opposing party. Where the opposing party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may obtain summary judgment by showing that the opposing party has no evidence or that its evidence is insufficient to meet its burden at trial.

Jurisdictions vary in their requirements for opposing a summary judgment motion. Federal rule of civil procedure 56 governs the applicability of summary judgment in federal proceedings, and each state has its own rules. In some states it is sufficient if the party opposing the motion merely calls the court's attention to inconsistencies in the pleadings and the movant's evidence without introducing further evidence. This approach rarely results in a court's granting summary judgment. On the other hand, other jurisdictions, including federal courts, do not permit a party opposing summary judgment to rest on the pleadings alone. Once the movant has met the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the opposing party to introduce evidence to contradict the movant's allegations.

summary judgment

n. a court order ruling that no factual issues remain to be tried and therefore a cause of action or all causes of action in a complaint can be decided upon certain facts without trial. A summary judgment is based upon a motion by one of the parties that contends that all necessary factual issues are settled, and therefore need not be tried. The motion is supported by declarations under oath, excerpts from depositions which are under oath, admissions of fact, and other discovery, as well as a legal argument (points and authorities), that argue that there are no triable issues of fact and that the settled facts require a summary judgment for the moving party. The opposing party will respond by counter-declarations and legal arguments attempting to show that there are "triable issues of fact." If it is unclear whether there is a triable issue of fact in any cause of action, then summary judgment must be denied as to that cause of action. The theory behind the summary judgment process is cut down on unnecessary litigation by eliminating without trial one or more causes of action in the complaint. The pleading procedures are extremely technical and complicated, and are particularly dangerous to the party against whom the motion is made. (See: summary adjudication of issues, cause of action)

summary judgment

a judgment in a SUMMARY CAUSE.
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that had held that a party opposing summary judgment could successfully create a dispute as to a material fact asserted in an affidavit by the moving party simply by relying on a contrary allegation in a well-pleaded complaint." (45) Florida long ago rejected the principle that mere allegations could be used to contest facts presented in affidavits in summary judgment--a change in Florida's standard effectuated by judicial decision, not by a formal change in the rules.
Another reason that the "substantial change in circumstances" test and burden on the moving party must apply to modification of custody between parents and third parties is because it promotes the stability of children.
The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, [begin strikethrough]and[end strikethrough] admissions, affidavits, and other materials as would be admissible in evidence on file [begin strikethrough]together with the affidavits, if any[end strikethrough], show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
The committee proposes, among other amendments, a new subdivision (j), which would provide that a trial judge "shall rule on a motion to disqualify immediately, but no later than 30 days after the service of the motion." The proposed subdivision also would provide that if the trial judge does not rule on the motion to disqualify within 30 days, "the motion shall be deemed granted and the moving party may seek an order from the court directing the clerk to reassign the case."
Accordingly, the court held that the patient did not demonstrate his prima facie entitlement to summary judgment, since the moving party failed to set forth any evidentiary facts in support of such relief.
LEGAL COMMENTARY: Summary judgment is warranted only when it appears from everything before the court that there is no triable issue of fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law (JML).
The court held, inter alia, that to prevail on a motion for summary judgment, a moving party must demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the undisputed facts, viewed in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, warrant judgment as a matter of law.
Disqualification under this provision does not require the moving party to show that specific confidences were revealed by the former client.
The court held, inter alia, that summary, Judgment is appropriate only when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
The court held, inter alia, that a motion for summary judgment shall be granted where all of the evidence demonstrates "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on an employee's sex.
Tennessee law provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." When the facts material to the application of the rule of law are undisputed, the application is a matter of law for the courts since there is nothing to submit to the jury to resolve in favor of one party or the other.
The court held, inter alia, that the moving party was obligated to come forward with evidentiary proof in admissible form showing its entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law.