After a lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff (the party suing) or the defendant (the party being sued) can file a motion for summary judgment. By making a motion for summary judgment, the moving party claims that all necessary factual issues are resolved or need not be tried because they are so one-sided.
After the lawsuit is filed and 20 days have passed, the party seeking to recover on a claim may move for summary judgment. The party against whom a claim is asserted can move for summary judgment at any time.
Supporting Papers and Affidavits
The plaintiff and the defendant file papers (such as admissions or depositions) and affidavits (statements under oath) to support or oppose the motion for summary judgment.
Burdens of Production and Proof
The party making the summary judgment motion has the initial burden of showing the absence of a disputed material fact. If this is shown, the burden of proof shifts to the opposing party to show specific facts that present a genuine issue for trial.
Summary Judgment Standard
In deciding a summary judgment motion, the court, or judge, reviews the pleadings, any depositions, any answers to interrogatories, any admissions on file, and any affidavits. Summary judgment should be granted only when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. A material fact is a fact that could affect the outcome of the case. An issue of fact is genuine if the evidence would justify a verdict for the party opposing the summary judgment motion. All inferences drawn from the evidence presented and all ambiguities must be resolved in favor of the party who opposes the summary judgment motion.
The court's denial of a motion for summary judgment is generally not a final order and cannot be appealed. The court's grant of summary judgment is a final decision, which can be reviewed on appeal.
Standards of Review on Appeal
The appellate court reviews the lower court's grant of summary judgment de novo, which means anew or starting over. The appellate court applies the same summary judgment standard. It decides if the evidence presents a factual dispute that should be submitted to the jury or whether the facts are one-sided in favor of one party.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Will filing a motion for summary judgment help in settlement negotiations?
- Can you file a motion for summary judgment on some of the issues in my case?
- Will winning a summary judgment mean we won't have to go to trial?