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What is a summary judgement?

Salyersville, KY |

I had to change lawyers because the one I had was not doing any thing for me, he seemed to be working for them. When I finally got fed up and hired someone else I was told that there was something about a summary judgement when my new attorney sent a demand letter after 5 years.

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Attorney answers 3


A summary judgment is a judgment entered by a court in favor of one party and against another. It is entered 'summarily' meaning without a trial. It can address the entire case or it can address one or more particular issues in the case. Summary judgment is warranted where there are no material issues of 'triable' fact, e.g., there is no factual dispute for consideration by the trier of fact (e.g., the judge or jury.) Stated otherwise, when the issues in a case can be adjudicated as a matter of law and not on any factual issue, summary judgment is appropriate. As a matter of policy, courts tend to favor trial on the merits, and view summary judgment as a drastic remedy. Consistent with that policy, it takes only one disputed issue of material fact to defeat a summary judgment motion.

Edward Calvin Matthews IV

Edward Calvin Matthews IV


I agree with Mr. Eisenberg's analysis of summary judgment. I would like to further clarify that summary judgment can be granted in favor of either party, in that a plaintiff can obtain his or her judgment against the defendant or a defendant can defeat a plaintiff's claim(s) by establishing an affirmative defense in his or her own motion for summary judgment. In addition, while different jurisdictions around the United States view the granting of a motion for summary judgment differently, in Missouri we have had a great deal of success obtaining judgments for our clients through motions for summary judgment.


It is a motion seeking a final judgment based on the papers and without the need for a trial.

The answer(s) herein do not constitute the establishment of an attorney/client relationship, nor are they intended to constitute the practice of law in any State. The answer(s) are based on extremely limited information provided by the submitter and are for general information purposes only. The original submitter, and those viewing these answer(s) are highly encouraged to seek out and engage legal counsel in their jurisdiction to review the entire matter.


A party can seek summary judgment whereby the court will resolve any issue in the case, or even the entire case, "as a matter of law", because there is no dispute as to "genuine issues of fact". Genuine issues of fact generally can, and should, be resolved by the "trier of fact" - a jury. If summary judgment was granted to your adversary 5 years ago, you may have a problem being able to continue the pursuit of your claim. Your new attorney can discuss this in detail with you.

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