Filing or Responding to a Motion for Summary Judgment

If you find yourself in a lawsuit, you could be served with a motion for summary judgment, which is a request to end a case without a trial.  A motion for summary judgment filed by an opposing party claims that you cannot prevail in the case because there is no legal dispute or your claim is without merit or a defense. Failure to respond to a motion for summary judgment can result in your case being dismissed or a judgment being rendered against you.

What Does a Motion for Summary Judgment do?

A motion for summary judgment asks the court to dispose of all or some of the issues related to your case. A motion that disposes of all issues is called a final summary judgment. A motion that only disposes of some issues is called a motion for partial summary judgment. A motion for partial summary judgment can eliminate, or narrow, the issues that are not in dispute. The case continues only on the remaining disputed issues.

What Documents are Required to File a Motion for Summary Judgment?

Generally, a motion for summary judgment should include supporting documents from the case such as declarations, affidavits, depositions, admissions, answers to interrogatories, along with a statement of facts in support of the motion. Filing a motion also requires a supporting memorandum of points and authorities, which are the legal support for the motion such as cases or statutes. The other side must receive a copy of the motion and notice of the day the hearing is to be held on the motion. The exact format and timing of summary judgment motions are determined by your state’s rules of civil procedure.

Filing an Opposition to a Motion for Summary Judgment

If a motion for summary judgment is filed against you, you must file an opposition to the motion for summary judgment showing that there are issues of fact in dispute. A response must be in writing and include the same supporting documents as a motion for summary judgment. The opposition to the motion for summary judgment should also include a statement of facts showing the dispute and supporting documents.

Your response should include a supporting memorandum of points and authorities. Prior to filing your response, consult Pleadings and Practice for the appropriate format and Points and Authorities for case law supporting your position. When you file your motion or opposition to the motion for summary judgment with the court, you will need to include a proof of service verifying the date your documents were mailed to the opposing party or their attorney.

Other Requirements for Filing a Motion for Summary Judgment or Response

Whether you are filing a motion or response, you will need to look in Pleading and Practice at the law library for the appropriate format for your motion or response. You will also need to consult Points and Authorities to find case law supporting your position. Because of the overlap in local rules and state law, it would be advisable to have an attorney prepare and file the motion for summary judgment or the opposition to the motion for summary judgment. They can make sure that your evidence and arguments are properly presented to the court.

What Happens after the Court Receives the Motion for Summary Judgment and Response?

After the court receives the original motion for summary judgment and your response, the court will review the motions and allow both sides to argue their positions. Most rules of civil procedure will not allow live testimony at a summary judgment hearing. If there are any issues in dispute, the motion for summary judgment will be denied. Failure to comply with any rules of procedures can also result in a denial of a motion or a response. If a motion for final summary judgment is granted, the decision can be appealed. If a motion for partial summary judgment is granted, you will have to wait until the lawsuit is finished to appeal the court’s decision.

Getting Further Help With Summary Judgment

If a motion for final summary judgment is granted, the decision can be appealed. If a motion for partial summary judgment is granted, you will have to wait until the lawsuit is finished to appeal the court’s decision. Consult with a trial and appellate attorney to learn what procedures and timelines apply in your motion for summary judgment case to perfect your right to appeal an adverse decision.