Motion for Summary Judgment
What is a Motion for Summary Judgment and what is its purpose?
General Explanation of a Motion for Summary JudgmentA Motion for Summary Judgment is a document filed with the court where the party is asking that the judge decide an issue--or the whole case--without the need for a trial. In order for a summary judgment to be granted by the court, the party filing the motion for summary judgment must demonstrate that there are "no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." This means that the undisputed facts presented in a particular case entitle one side to win because of the existing law relating to that issue.
When considering a Motion for Summary Judgment, a Arizona judges must view all "the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Rowland v. Kellogg Brown and Root Inc. Only if the court makes a finding that no genuine issue of material fact exists can the moving party be granted a judgment as a matter of law. If issues of material fact exist then the Motion for Summary Judgment should be dismissed in its entirety.
Courts are cautioned not to use summary judgment proceedings as a substitute for trials, the motion should be granted if the facts produced in support of the claim or defense have so little probative value, given the quantum of evidence required, that reasonable people could not agree with the conclusion advanced by the proponent of the claim or defense.
The burden of persuasion on the party seeking summary judgment is heavy and if there is any genuine issue as to a material factual issue is present, the motion should be denied.
Therefore, a summary judgment provides an award for one party without a full trial. Plus a summary judgment can be awarded for the full case or just a specific issue in dispute.
Statement of Facts and AffidavitThere are two documents filed in conjunction with the summary judgment itself; a statement of facts and affidavit of facts. The statement of facts lays out the facts as moving party sees them. In addition, to just stating the "facts", they must also cite to specific documents that supports their statements.
Additionally, the moving party must file an affidavit where they swear under oath that each of the statements that make are true.
Why Would Someone File a Motion for Summary Judgment?Just because the opposing party filed a Motion for Summary Judgment it doesn't mean that you did something wrong or they have an extraordinarily strong case where the judge will enter judgment in their favor without even going to trial.
It is quite common for Motions for Summary Judgment to be filed in Arizona cases. In part they are filed because a judge can rule on just one aspect of the case. This will allow them to see if they can "chip at the edges" of our lawsuit and see if they can get anything dismissed at this time.
What Should You Do if a Motion for Summary Judgment is Filed Against You?You must file a response to the Motion for Summary Judgment and explain to the judge why the case should move forward to trial. As part of the response a statement of facts and affidavit must also be filed. Similar to the opposing party's statement of facts you must cite a source for every statement you make to the court. Doing this can be incredibly tedious and time consuming but vital to your case. The response and accompanying documents must be filed within 30 days of receiving their Motion!
What if Motion for Summary Judgment is Granted?If the motion is granted, the judgment on the issue or case is deemed to be a final judgment from which a party may appeal. You can appeal the decision to a court of appeal can reverse the summary judgment and reinstate the claim in the lower court. However, this is rarely done and most summary judgments are upheld on appeal!