summary judgment

(redirected from Summary dismissal)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

summary judgment

a judgment in a SUMMARY CAUSE.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
"The issue of contention and disbelief was never about Mr Van Rooyen, it was about the summary dismissal of Mr Nene," said Manuel.
The defendants can either apply to have the case struck off by applying for a summary dismissal - arguing there is no case to answer - or prepare a defence.
Summary dismissal requires a broader consideration of the issues and, in most cases, an appropriate investigation.
A likely punishment would be a summary dismissal of the accused if the court of inquiry upheld the charges against him.
The employer''s reaction can then often be heavy handed, such as summary dismissal of an employee.
Louis Post Dispatch, protesting what he called his summary dismissal, but admitting that he himself might have set the bidding process in motion.
To the Public Attorneys and Legal Advisors despite the functions and powers provided for in the ICSS/2005, the INC/2005 and the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development Organization Act 2008, read together, they amongst other duties have powers to supervise cases to which any level of Government is a party and conduct pre-trail proceedings and summary dismissal of cases if it is inadmissible evidence, hence seem to having receive cases report without application of the said legal instruments and continues issuing petitions even for common misdemeanors which also increase level of omissions and commissions disrespectfully.
It was well within the bounds of reasonable response for them to conclude that summary dismissal was the appropriate sanction."
Graham McWilliam, of Empire HR, adds: "You could expect disciplinary action up to summary dismissal.
Kramer rejected three motions for summary dismissal of the lawsuit by lawyers for SF Weekly.
It would be no surprise to see Paul Blockley bringing him back here for further pickings, following this summary dismissal of Acertack.
Debbie Rudder returned to work as an AIN at the Booroongen Djugan Aboriginal Corporation in November, after the Industrial Relations Commission ruled that 'substantial injustice had occurred' with her summary dismissal.

Full browser ?