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If a defendant files a motion for summary judgment in a civil case, what is the defendant saying?

Monterey Park, CA |
Filed under: Litigation

If a defendant files a motion for summary judgment in a civil case, what is the defendant saying?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Basically, the defendant is saying that even if every fact you have alleged is true, the defendant still wins.


  2. Defendant is also saying that the facts and evidence developed during the course of the litigation (to the extent such a record has been created) are insufficient to support your claims and, therefore, a judgement can be entered as a matter of law without having the case tried to a jury.


  3. When a party moves for summary judgment, it means that they are advising the court there is no need for trial, because there in no question of a material fact. For instance, a defendant may have an affirmative defense that even if plaintiff's cause of action states a claim, plaintiff would still lose. One example may be a lawsuit filed untimely. If the there is no factual disagreement on the date the claim arose and the period for filing a lawsuit, and it was filed after the period of limitations had expired, then the defendant will win on this defense.

    Also, a defendant could win if it can disprove one or more essential facts that the plaintiff needs to win. For example, a complaint for negligence by the plaintiff's slipping and falling on a particular date and time due to a bad sidewalk. What if the defendant produces a video tape of the entire day in question and no one fell and the plaintiff was not there. And what if the plaintiff admits to being on the other side of town on that date and to not slipping and falling on the sidewalk ever. Then the defendant should be entitled to judgment without need for trial.


  4. The defendant is saying that the judge can rule in defendant's favor without the necessity of a trial (whether jury trial or bench trial) simply based upon undisputed material facts which the defendant must present by way of sworn declarations in support of defendant's motion for summary judgment.

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