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Can a plaintiff with very strong evidence file a motion for summary judgment in federal court before discovery?

Los Angeles, CA |

I intend to file in the US district court for the central district of CA. The defendant is only expected to dispute my legal interpretation of a statute and not my evidence. We both appear to agree on the facts. Can I file a motion for summary judgment on liability before they file an answer and before discovery? I believe I likely do not need any more evidence to show no reasonable juror would find in their favor (assuming the court agrees with my interpretation of law). Thank you for your help. It is much appreciated.

Attorney Answers 2


You can file your motion at any time provided that the opposition has sufficient time to file its response. Be aware, however, that the opposition can (and will) ask the court to either dismiss the motion or postpone the hearing for a long enough period of time in which it can conduct discovery to obtain evidence with which to oppose your motion. After all, the defendant has rights too. And, do not be so sure about your likelihood of success. There are many bridges to cross to win an MSJ. It sounds as though you are self-represented. This may not be your wisest choice. Your question demonstrates a basic lack of understanding of the legal procedural issues. I recommend that, at minimum, you consult with an attorney well familiar with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as well as the local USDC rules.

Good Luck.

The information given is generic and does not constitute legal advice, which would only be given after a consultation and complete review of the specific facts of your case.

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No court will hear a motion for summary judgment before the defendant has a right to file an answer. Trying it will simply give the defendant more time to study your paperwork. Wait until it is likely that the court will allow the motion to proceed - after the answer and after a reasonable period of time for the defendant to engage in whatever discovery it believes it needs to seek. Otherwise you simply hand your opponent an advantage.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.

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