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October 07, 2022

The Infamous Motion for Summary Judgment

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Posted in Wisconsin Workers Compensation Related News

Personal Injury Lawyer

Summary judgment is a judgment by a court without going to trial.  A summary judgment is a final decision by a judge based on statements and evidence.  Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure outlines summary judgment for federal courts. 

A motion for summary judgment is a motion, filed by one party, requesting the court to issue summary judgment on a case to resolve a lawsuit before going to court.  If the motion is granted, there will be no trial and the judge will enter judgment for the movant.  These motions are often made when one party believes that no genuine issue of material facts exists and that the opposing party loses on the case even if all its allegations are accepted as true.  A motion for summary judgment can be filed by either party and the other party must respond accordingly.

The process of a summary judgment decision includes the filing party’s motion, the opposing party’s response, and the judge’s decision.  Typical motions for summary judgment include three parts.  The first part typically entails facts of the given case as the filing party views them.  The second part entails the filing party’s arguments on the law in an effort to show that, under the law, the filing party is entitled to win the case.  The third part will include any potential counterarguments that the opposing party could make in response to the motion for summary judgment. 

After the motion is filed, the opposing party submits a response.  In their response, the opposing party can attempt to show why the filing party’s arguments are invalid, or that there is evidence showing more than one plausible version of the facts to avoid an unfavorable judgment. 

Next, the judge reviews the motion and supporting documents and makes a decision to grant or deny the motion.  Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a movant must show that either there is no genuine dispute to any material fact, and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  A material fact refers to any fact(s) that could allow a fact-finder to decide against the movant.  When considering a motion for summary judgment, a judge will view all evidence in the light most favorable to the movant’s opponent.  The judge will grant the motion for summary judgment if the filing party’s arguments about the law were correct, and even assuming the opposing party’s version of the facts, the filing party is still entitled to win.  The judge will deny the motion if there is evidence that presents any questions of fact in dispute that should be decided by the jury at trial. 

In addition to granting a motion for summary judgment in whole, judges can also grant a partial summary judgment.  For example, a judge might grant summary judgment on some factual issues and leave others for trial.  In addition, a judge may grant summary judgment regarding liability but still hold a trial to determine damages.  

Thanks to Eglet Adams – a well-regarded personal injury lawyer for their insight on Motions for Summary Judgment.

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